The first Downtown Marquette Farmers market was held in 1994. In the past few years, the market has grown rapidly, becoming a good source of revenue for vendors.
On an average Saturday this year, 723 people visit the market. The Marquette Downtown Development Authority, who runs the market, estimates each customer spends $12. That means about $8,700 is split each week among the 43 vendors at the market.
Vendors pay $60 to be included in the market for the season. Excluding that income, grant money, and utilities, the DDA has spent over $6,000 from their budget this year on the market. DDA Chairperson Christine Pesola said this shows the value the DDA places in the market.
"The DDA loves the market. The business owners love the market. We want to make sure that we help facilitate that," said Pesola.
Sarah Monte used to manage the market, and next year, her family is hoping to sell there. She explained the value she sees in the market.
"It's providing healthy, fresh food to our population, it's providing a place for our local farming economy to sell its wares and make a living doing that work, and it's also creating a unique place in Marquette," said Monte.
Vendors operate under a market agreement that was established in 2006. After the market season ends this year, those policies will be revisited. Last week at the DDA's regular meeting, local farmers and downtown business owners expressed a variety of concerns about the current market agreement. After listening to comments, Pesola said the DDA decided to form a task force.
"We will sit down and look at those rules and regulations and see if any of them need tweaking," she said.
Monte hopes they recognize the spirit of the market.
"There's a reason why so many people are coming down there, and although it is paid for by the DDA, it's a market that's used by the whole county," she said.
If people are interested in serving on the task force or want to voice more opinions, they can contact the DDA Board. Their contact information is available here: http://www.downtownmarquette.org/about.php
The current market agreement is available here: http://mqtfarmersmarket.com/vendor-info/rules-and-regulations/
"If you are going to let them know what they think, make sure to do so in a polite and respective way," Monte added. "The more information they get, the more information that review committee will have to work with."
The review process can't begin until the market season ends on October 26.