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Growing season: North Liberty’s Farmer’s Market more successful than first year

NORTH LIBERTY– Summer may officially end this month, but expect six more weeks of a great summertime tradition here in North Liberty.
The North Liberty Farmer’s Market, held each Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the North Liberty Community Center parking lot, will wrap up its second season Oct. 25. Co-organizer Matt Meseck of the North Liberty Recreation Department has been pleased with the market’s growth over last year.
“Last year, we ended the season with an average of 12 vendors each week,” Meseck noted. “This year, we are seeing an average of 16 or 17 vendors weekly.” This year’s market has seen an average attendance of between 400-450 customers per week, nearly doubling from last year’s average weekly attendance.
The summer’s fair weather has helped a great deal, with only one rainout so far this year. Also, positive word-of-mouth advertising has brought new and varied vendors to the event.
One popular addition was L&J’s Barbecue, offering grilled barbecue, bratwursts and ribs, to join the vendors who bring produce, plants and herbs, fresh meat and handcrafted items, some from as far away as Dubuque.
Meseck said the market has been a nice addition to the city’s offerings, one the city would not have been able to add without the help of veteran marketer and local business owner, Kristina Arnold of Cocina del Mundo.
“Kristina continues to be our Market Master,” said Meseck. “She is very versed in all the rules and regulations and practices of successful markets.” At just $5 per vendor stall, the North Liberty Farmer’s Market does not generate a profit for the city, but remains an affordable venue for local growers and crafters, and a quality-of-life asset for residents.
Meseck and Arnold have already planted the seeds for expanding the market further next season, hoping to secure a season-long business sponsor. This sponsor would be able to set up a booth each week, and offer specials or conduct other activities, such as face-painting or games for kids, as a means of exposure and advertising for their business. In addition, money raised through this type of sponsorship would be used to hire musicians to entertain market-goers. Blues, jazz, string ensembles, or even high school groups might be a possibility; Meseck is open to ideas from the public.
“We really want to hear from people about what they want to see from this Farmer’s Market,” Meseck said. His goal for next season is to have 25 vendors, and generate 600 customer visits, per week. Meseck encourages any interested vendors to get more information by visiting the City’s website, www.northlibertyiowa.org, and linking to the Recreation Department’s Special Events section of the Recreation program brochure.
Meanwhile, as we ease into autumn, vendors are now supplying fall items like pumpkins and gourds, squash and mums, fresh apple butter and homemade pies.
With six more Sundays until the season is over, Meseck hopes everyone will have a chance to visit the North Liberty Farmer’s Market, and take advantage of a growing opportunity: to purchase locally raised meat, fresh produce, healthy plant stock and hand-made items; to support fellow business people; and to come out and greet your neighbors.
“I’m happy to see it’s been so successful,” he said. “I’m excited to see what next year brings.”