Photo by JC Amberlyn.
The Kingman Farmers Market is gearing up for its first full season this year.
The Spring Festival Market kicks off 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. March 18, downtown on the corner of First and Beale streets (across from Locomotive Park).
It all started when Van Peters, instructor at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension, met with an initial group of about 20 local growers and craftsmen for what started as an eight-market test season last September.
“We began to get insight into what a market in Kingman might look like,” he said.
The goal was an attempt to both get more SNAP program recipients involved and gauge community response to such an event.
“We did the test to see the community response and it was fantastic,” said Kerry Glancy, market spokeswoman. “It was a great test and we’re able to move forward.”
The September start date was too short a notice for many crop growers. There was still a variety of products ranging from vegetables, eggs, honey, bread, candy and nuts.
The market’s mission includes bringing healthy locally grown food to the community while boosting both the economy and local social interaction. Judging by last season’s response, word got out.
Glancy had 45 active and willing vendors last year with about 20-25 showing up at the Saturday events of approximately 600 to 1,400 visitors a day. The market can accommodate 40 vendors in the space allotted, and she’s had at least 37 that have expressed interest in addition to last year’s. If enough growers are ready this month, the market will be held weekly. If not, the next market will be April 15 (Easter weekend) and the full market opening is May 20.
“We’re looking at about 30 markets this year depending on how early we start our weekly market,” Glancy said.
What’s New? Aside from getting the attention of more growers and craftsmen, the market is still in its infancy stages. Vendors from throughout the county have participated and shown future interest. Market organizers allow vendors from within 150 miles.
Glancy said a woodworking artist and seasoning/spice maker will join the party this year. The first few markets will have seedlings to plant for the growing season.
“We are working closely with the growers who have started taking part to learn more about when produce is available, how to diversify, and how to balance the needs of our vendors and the demands of the consumers,” she said. “It is fun times and all hands on deck right now.”
Outside Concessions “We have space at the market for one concession truck for every market to serve hot food,” Glancy said. “We don’t really have the facilities to do full food service.”
The Mohave County Health Department has strict guidelines for food handling and serving that make adding more outside food and drink vendors to the present location challenging.
“We’d love to have one at every market,” she said. “I’m still working on that.”
She’s expressed interest in getting downtown businesses to use their concession licenses to allow the sale of drinks and hot food. The market can still have food catered, but private residents have more regulations to follow.
Timing can be another factor. With last year’s short season, vendors were invited free of charge just to see how the location worked out.
“The public was so responsive,” Glancy said. “The vendors had such a great time and attendance went up weekly through Halloween.”
They also had to compete with the crowds from Best of the West Festival and Andy Devine Days.
“We still did OK,” she said.
“We want the public to understand we’re not in a traditional agricultural area. We don’t have tons of food,” Glancy said. “As we’re getting started, we want them to understand we rely on baked goods and confections and are still working with our grower base.”
Glancy, a gardener herself, was one of many vendor/volunteers curious to see how everything came together. She hopes the market will bloom once growers see a market for their products, some of which are unique to the area.
“I personally sold over $1,000 in regional honey last year,” she said. “The only reason I didn’t sell more is because I sold all I had.”
She eventually wants to focus on vending and plans to hire a marketing director to help publicize the event.
“We’re still learning, we really want to see this take off,” she said. “As long as the public is patient, they won’t be disappointed.”
For food requirements, vendor information and schedules, visit the market website at www.kingmanfarmersmarket.org, their Facebook page or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a message at 412-568-3536 and a volunteer will respond.