Aurora -- The Aurora Farmers' Market completed its third summer Aug. 28 at the Church in Aurora. The market was open on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at the parking lot behind the church and Town Hall.
"We have loyal followers, people who show up week after week," said Jack Burge, the city's economic development director, who oversees the market.
The market featured farm-fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables, honey, cheese, bread and meat. Many of the items were organic, and all the items emphasized health and wholeness, he said.
Matt Johnson, owner of Red Rock Farmers Market LLC, was the manager of the market.
The farmer's market opened June 12 this year after previously opening in July.
"It worked out very well," Burge said. "Lots of people have asked us to extend the market in the fall. We tried to do that, but it doesn't work for us on Wednesday nights.
"There are some markets on Saturday mornings that can go on in the fall because there are fruits and vegetables that come in only in the fall. For our market, though, it just works better up to Labor Day. By that time, school has started, and moms are busy.
"So we started earlier in the year, and that seemed to be very popular with the vendors," Burge said. "We didn't have the huge crowd on opening day that we have experienced in the past, and the crowds were spread out over the first few weeks instead. That pleased the vendors."
The plan was to have fewer vendors -- about two dozen -- than last year, but the market ended up with about 35 vendors, including a man who twists balloons into various shapes, a woman face painter and a woman who plays the dulcimer.
"We were still out on the lawn as of last year, and we got feedback that some elderly people didn't like walking on the lawn, so we moved it to the parking lot pavement," Burge said.
"It forced the vendors to line up tighter. We ended up with a higher vendor count this year. Some vendors came every other week. Some were two weeks on and two weeks off. But the number of vendors we had wasn't overwhelming. We had about the right amount."
BURGE SAID there were ancillary benefits to the market. They included the church stressing vendors' products be in the health and wellness category, and the Cleveland Clinic partnering with the market by providing health screenings including testing for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose. The clinic also shared recipes for healthy living.
"The market brought the community together," he said. "For some people, this was an outing. They'd mingle among themselves. There were lots of conversations in the middle of the market. That added to the community outreach that the church is trying to achieve."
Burge stressed the importance of the church's role.
"The church provided helpers every week to help set up and take down [the market]," he said.
"Every week, we had a drawing for a food basket by the vendors," he added. "It was a nice added benefit."
There were cooking demonstrations and activities provided for children including Macaroni Kids, who were there for seven dates.
Burge said the market has been a successful outreach initiative for the Church in Aurora.
"It has provided an outlet for local farmers to sell healthy, home-grown products to the citizens of Aurora and beyond," he said. "For Aurora, the market has provided a one-stop shopping experience for a wide variety of local products and services plus a community gathering event on Wednesday evenings during the summer months."
Burge said they've used lawn signs, directing mailings and advertising in the Aurora Advocate "so people don't forget about us. As the market goes along, more and more people are saying positive things about it."
See more about the market at www.redrockfarmersmarket.com.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC