Farmers market turns 30

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Weekly sale opens for a milestone season;
market manager shares some thoughts about it

PENDLETON — Visitors from near and far strolled along Falls Park Drive Saturday morning during opening day of Pendleton Indiana Farmers Market’s 30th season.
More than 60 vendors lined the street, which was closed to vehicle traffic, between Falls Park’s main entrance and John Street.
Vendors included a variety of farmers, artists and craftspeople; home-based businesses selling a variety of items including baked goods and other food and drink items; and local organizations both selling items and spreading the word about events and missions.
“This is actually the first time that we’ve been by,” shopper Maddie Love of Frankton said while visiting Fields of Joy booth, where she bought a dried floral arrangement.
She and her mom, Becky Rastetter, were drawn to the area by the Highway 38 sale.

Christine Ross of Winchester, Ohio — formerly of the Pendleton area — visited the market with her mother, Mary Kimm of Anderson.
They spent some time at one of their favorite booths, Halt the Salt, which offers a broad array of salt-free seasonings.
Ross said she has been coming to the market “off and on for years,” and is a repeat customer at this booth in particular.
Local resident Connie Rector bought some plants at the market, a common occurrence, she said.
She also loves to buy vegetables, with a particular affinity for one type, and what she described as an unusual habit.
“I love asparagus,” she said. “I’m the only one walking through the market eating it raw.”
The market is set for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays through September (except Sept. 7).
According to market manager Karyn Ledbetter, the market is overseen by the Friends of Falls Park board of directors.
Friends is a non-profit organization aimed at assisting the park board in preserving, improving and promoting the park.
Ledbetter answered some questions about the market, including how it has changed and stayed the same after three decades of operation.
Q — How long has Pendleton had a farmers market?
Since 1994. This is our 30th season.
Q — How has the farmers markets changed throughout the years?
The market first started out on Broadway between State and Water streets. In 2012 it was moved to the circle in front of the Community Building. In 2018 and 2019 the market was held in the YMCA parking lot. By 2020 it was moved to our current location. In 2021, Friends of Falls Park took over the market.
The first year was 10-12 vendors. This year we opened with 65 vendors, and our peak has been 75 one year.
Q — How has it remained the same?
We have one vendor, The Bodenhorn family (James and Justin) from Lapel, who has been with us all 30 seasons. They will return in July with their sweet corn.
Q — What are the benefits or the attraction of a farmers market?
We have 20 local farmers who have fresh produce, plants, meat or honey each week. All are within a 40-mile radius.
Q — What are the main categories of products at the market?
Farm, home-based and artisan craft.
Q — Have the types of things people sell at the market changed over time?
The farming and home-based doesn’t change. Our artisan crafts trends do each year. My first year it was gnomes. My second year was bowl cozies. This year everyone is making sourdough bread due to the TikTok trend.
Q — Are there mainstay products and others that come and go?
Farmers will always be at the heart of the market. In fact, if we don’t have at least two farmers, we cannot open the market.
Q — What are some of the most unique vendors that have participated?
My first year we had handmade cards. We had whistles made from the park tornado wood. Our longtime metalsmith Traci Davidson always has unique items like her horseshoe dogs.
Q — Are there any unusual vendors at this year’s market?
This year we have bubble tea and egg sandwiches for the first time. Wooden Pens by Rich added hand-turned pens (made) from wood from the USS New Jersey this year.
Q — How would you describe where the vendors come from?
Everyone is an hour drive or less. The farthest we have is from Arcadia, Selma and Modoc. Others are from Alexandria, Anderson, Daleville, Fishers, Frankton, Greenfield, Indianapolis, Ingalls, Lapel, Markleville, Middletown, Muncie, Noblesville, Pendleton, Shirley and Yorktown.
Q — How does one become a vendor?
Sign up at https://portal.conventionforce.com/index.cfm?aid=483
Q — Do you have any tips for shoppers?
Come early for the produce and baked goods. Baked goods tend to go early. The majority of vendors accept cash, cards, Venmo, Cash App, PayPal or Zelle. Highly recommend having a little cash for the few who only accept cash so you don’t have hurry uptown to the bank. We also have a few farmers who have or are in the process of accepting Snap. Look for the signs at booths.