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It was a 'decent year overall' for Aurora Farmers' Market

by BOB GAETJENS | REPORTER Published: September 28, 2016 1:00 AM
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Aurora -- Heading into each season, Aurora Farmers' Market operator Matt Johnson has only a vague idea how the summer's going to turn out.

This year, the market, which was open Wednesdays behind the Church in Aurora for three months, was a mix of good and bad days, depending upon the weather, said Johnson.

"Weather is the ultimate decider on farmers' markets," he said. "It was a good year as far as the vendors and a pretty decent year overall, even with some rainouts."

But the rain was not as bad this year as it has been in the past, he added.

"We did have two rainouts this year," Johnson said. "Three years ago, nine out of the 12 times we were open were forecast for rain."

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Aurora Director of Economic Development Jack Burge said vendors at the market are very happy with it in its sixth year.

"They're happy with their Wednesday afternoons in Aurora," he said. "A couple of them said it rivals their Saturday markets, which are bigger because people are off work."

Johnson said the extreme summer heat that hit the area hurt some vendors, either because their product was not in demand or the vendors themselves -- many of whom are seniors -- couldn't be out in the sun for five hours straight, including setup and cleanup time.

The ideal temperature seems to be about 75 degrees, he said, noting, "If it's 5 degrees more, you lose about 10 percent."

Each incremental 5-degree increase costs the market another 10 percent in attendance than would attend if the temperature is optimal.

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One vendor who did well was Bob Messner, owner of The Latest Scoop, said Johnson.

"My frozen yogurt guy did phenomenally," he said referring to Messner. "All the vendors and customers were buying from him."

Whatever the weather, though, Johnson said vendors are usually understanding. Unpredictable weather is part of what they sign up for at farmers' markets.


In its sixth year, the Aurora market features all food-related vendors, including some of what Johnson calls "service vendors. For instance, last year I had a knife sharpener. I don't do crafts The things that are there are food-related and healthy."

The Church in Aurora helps with publicity and also plays host to the market, and Johnson said he and the Aurora School of Music work together to provide entertainment.

"Kids come out and play in front of a live audience, and it gives them some exposure," he said. "I've also had some professional adults come out and play some beautiful music."

Aurora Memorial Library also comes out and hosts storytime for children, and the Atrium at Anna Maria sponsors the market, he added.

Farmers' markets in general are seeing more competition from premium grocery stores that offer fresh, local food, explained Johnson.

"The hipsters and millennials probably will end up saving farmers' markets," he said. "Those particular types of demographics are definitely into fresh, organic food."

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4188

Twitter: @thegatewaynews

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