Farmers market coming to Washington

Apr. 30—A new feature is planned for downtown Washington this summer. Discover Downtown Washington will be putting on a farmers market from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Organizers say the farmers market is something the community has asked for.

"There has been a lot of community talk about wanting to start a farmers market. One of the pillars of Discover Downtown Washington is setting goals and establishing a farmers market is one of those goals," said Discover Downtown Washington President Beth Gabhart. "We threw the idea out to the community several months ago and got a lot of feedback. We had, just from the initial Facebook post, 18 volunteers, 19 vendors who wanted contacted once we completed the application process. We feel we have a lot of community support."

Gabhart said organizers have been doing their research to help get the Washington market going.

"We have been reaching out to other farmers' markets in the area, Vincennes and Bloomington, to learn how they do it and what works for them. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel," she said. "We have worked at putting one together that will be on Saturdays. This will be a little bit shorter season than some of the other farmers' markets, but with this being our first year we wanted to make sure we made it manageable and we work out all of the kinks, and try to do it to the best of our ability."

The initial home for the farmers' market will be the section of the Commons next to Main Street that has been completed, with plans to expand later.

"We are going to have it in that area of the Commons that is complete," said Gabhart. "We are limiting our vendors until the Commons is completed. Once it is finished then we can expand. For now, we are working off of the limited space. We also have a backup plan that would have us in the EDC parking lot. We have used that area before during our Christmas on Main Street so we know that area and how many vendors it can hold."

Gabhart says the small space will mean a couple of things for visitors and Discover Downtown. It will give the public a chance to deal with a number of vendors and the organization a chance to rotate some potential participants in and out each week.

"The first year will give us a chance to build data on the operation and find out what is working and what is not working," she said. "We will have space for 14 to 16 vendors. We will have a mix of vendors each Saturday. Once we open the calendar, the vendors will get to choose which Saturday they wish to participate. Many of the vendors do this as a hobby or side business and they don't necessarily want to give up every Saturday in their summer. We want to be flexible with the scheduling and not hold them to being there every single Saturday."

Organizers say the farmers market will include produce, like most people expect, but it will also have a whole lot more as Discover Downtown Washington invites people to find out what all is available in the county.

"We want to highlight the resources we have in Daviess County. We have farmers, growers, producers, small farms and artisans," said Gabhart. "We have a lot of people who make great things with their hands be it artistic items or baked goods. We want the market to highlight those special people."

People looking to set up booth space will have to go through an application process. That begins at the Discover Downtown Washington website From there, go to events where you will find applications.

"Those will be due back to us by May 22. We will review the application to make certain you live in Daviess County and that you are a good fit for the farmers market. Is this something that is handmade? Is this something you grow? We want to make certain it is coming from our community," said Gabhart. "Once you are approved, we will send you the calendar link and you can sign up for the specific days you want. There is a $10 fee. We decided to keep the vendor fee low and make it affordable for them."

Gabhart calls the farmers' market just one of the projects that Discover Downtown Washington leaders hope will put more life into the Main Street area.

"This is another project designed to remind people to buy local. These vendors are your neighbors. This is a way to shop local and support the community and at the same time liven up downtown," she said.