According to Alderman Carleen Murray [Ward 2], the idea for the extension was spearheaded by Parks and Recreation Supervisor Ted Barklage in response to the immense popularity of the city’s Farmers’ Market, which launched in April of this year on South Central Avenue.
“The Farmers’ Market this year was such a success that we actually received a memo from Ted recommending that it continue into winter,” Murray said.
The original market run was planned to last until Oct. 26.“We started thinking about expanding the market sometime this summer after seeing how much the vendors liked it and how much the residents liked it,” Barklage said.
Community support for the market’s winter expansion was gauged through social media, including the market’s official Facebook page.
“It’s really hard to gauge the number of patrons, but I think we gauge the popularity and interest in the market based on the responses we get from social media and the responses we get from our vendors,” Barklage said.
The market, which began with about 17 vendors in April, has grown to include an average of 25 to 30 vendors a month now.
The Winter Market will be located at The Timbers of Eureka Recreation Center, located at 1 Coffey Park Lane on the east side of Hwy. 109 and just south of Interstate 44.
The 30,000-square-foot facility will house the vendors in the two upstairs meeting rooms that are joined by a removable partition. For vendors who need to grill or cook food in a ventilated area, additional space will be available outside along with some kitchen space for food vendors in need of extra preparation space.
“We should have no problem accommodating everyone, and there’s some overflow space in the hall outside if we need it,” Barklage said. He added that some vendors don’t have products to sell or interest in a winter market, “so we might not have the same amount or the same vendors we have at our current market.” But he’s confident that the market has enough interest to grow.
Tentative dates for the Winter Market will be Nov. 16, Dec. 21, Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and March 15. The market is tentatively scheduled from 3:30-7 p.m. but might fluctuate in the future depending on other events occurring in the recreation center.