Farmer's Market proposed to Aledo City Council

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

A farmer's market could be a part of the landscape of Aledo this coming June. Aledo Main Street in partnership with Mercer County Farm Bureau, Mercer County Economic Development Partnership, Master Gardeners, Aledo CUSD #201 and the Mercer County Health Department, have joined forces to support a Farmer's Market on the 100 block of East Main Street from 4-7 p.m. on Thursdays, starting June 11 through Oct. 22.

Myers brought the proposal to the Aledo City Council Monday, Feb. 16, 2009, with hopes of getting council approval to close off a one-block area on East Main Street for the farmer's market from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Thursday.

Myers said that downtown Aledo was surveyed on the topic, with 99 percent of merchants agreeing this would be a good idea. "A lot of times there's band shell activities on Thursdays," she said.

The farmer's market would include produce, baked goods, crafts and other types of merchandise. Vendors would set up tables and tents in the street to sell their wares. She said the organizers would like to have themes for each week's market, with weekly specials. She said that with five restaurants in downtown Aledo could be featured on given weeks. A community day, healthy living, outdoor living and other themes could become some of the themes.

She said that merchants on the block agreed to stay open late on Thursdays as well.

Myers said that Aledo Main Street has applied for a $7,500 grant to help fund the proposal. "Jenny Garner (Mercer County Economic Development Partnership coordinator) has also secured a $6,000 grant for the Farmer's Market," she added.

To help deal with the No Parking (except for vendors) on East Main Street, Myers suggested that on Thursday mornings they "put up signs in the area" letting people know the block would be closed off.

"We have had some interest locally," she said. She plans to send out a mailing in March, using the theme "Buy local, buy fresh."

She commented that there is a nice mix of partners working for the open market and each would be in charge on alternating weeks. "Each of us is going to take every fifth week," said Myers.

Myers said she had researched other areas that held successful Farmer's Markets and found that Wednesdays and Saturdays were popular days for the venue. Rather than compete with existing markets, Aledo is hoping to bring in some of those vendors here.

"Most businesses were very congenial, saying 'Oh, we'll stay open,'" said Lois Rickets, representing Master Gardeners.

One of the council members asked why the street needed to be closed off, and why the vendors couldn't just sell their wares out of the back of their cars/trucks right on the sidewalk.

"We don't want to have them selling out of the back of their vehicles," said Mercer County EDP coordinator Garner.

Bruce Paul, an Aledo Main Street member, said, "Consistency is something the vendors are wanting."

Myers said there were 20 spots for vendors along that block, with 16 spaces on the south side of the block and 14 on the north side.

The Mercer County Health Department is involved in the venture, to make sure that health laws and regulations are observed. There will be a $75 seasonal charge to vendors or a $10 weekly charge.

Alderman Rich Maynard asked about whether the vendors would need peddler's licenses.

Alderman Chris Hagloch said that peddler's licenses exempts farmer's markets.

Myers told the council that the insurance for the farmer's market would be covered under Aledo Main Street's policies.

Mayor Lee Celske asked the clerk to put the vote on the farmer's market on the council's March 2, 2009 agenda.