by Joni Astrup
The Elk River Farmers Market opens Thursday, June 26, with a full slate of vendors, new activities for kids and a line up of entertainment.
Karen Wingard, who coordinates the market for the city, said this is the first time in the market’s eight-year history that all 33 vendor stalls are full.
A number of new vendors have signed up featuring kettle corn, fruit smoothies, dried fruit and nuts, brownie and cake mixes, eggs, and sunflower oil products.
Also new this year will be certified organic produce from Warnke Farms in Big Lake, pastured chickens, grass-fed hamburger and maple syrup from KDE Farms in Hugo, and pottery from WilloRain Studio in Elk River.
There also will be a number of returning vendors. Some of them have participated since the beginning.
“I feel really excited about the season,” Wingard said. “Not only is it full this year, but with the addition of programming for the kids and the special event days, it will be more of an experience for people.”
The market will run from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 2 in downtown Elk River.
During the market’s opening day on June 26, the first 50 guests will receive a free gift and frequent shopper cards will be handed out until they are gone. With the frequent shopper cards, visit the market five times and get a stamp and receive $5 to spend at the farmers market.
New kids activities will be offered weekly at the market. The Elk River Parks and Recreation Department will provide a free “make and take” craft project to the first 50 kids each week.
For children 12 years and under, pick up a Market Sprouts Passport to Health at the farmers market. Complete the challenges, like trying a new fruit or vegetable and exploring a park, and get a wooden nickel worth $1 to spend at the market. Turn in the completed passport at The Bank of Elk River — sponsor of the farmers market — for a prize.
Sherburne County Master Gardeners will visit the farmers market on June 26, July 24, Aug. 21 and Sept 11 to answer questions about gardening.
A new facebook page at facebook/ElkRiverFarmersMarket will highlight vendors, the craft of the week and other market news.
‘Community is important’
This is Wingard’s second year coordinating the Elk River Farmers Market.
Wingard, whose maiden name is Roden, grew up in Otsego. She is a microbiologist and chemist and was working in the endocrinology lab at Mayo Clinic in Rochester when she and her husband, Mark, decided to move back home where they have a potato farm.
“He missed the farming. We both missed the family. And once you grow up in a good city, it’s hard to find leave and find that same feel,” she said.
They have two sons, Ryan, 10, and Jason, 9.
Wingard said she always liked working with kids and the community, and initially started out doing kids’ programming for Elk River Parks and Recreation. That led to a new role last year coordinating the Elk River Farmers Market.
She said she loves it.
“The community is important, and you want to see the different community programs and opportunities succeed,” she said.
Elk River Farmers Market events
•June 26 – Kick-off Party: Opening day of the farmers market with giveaways for the first 50 guests.
•July 10 – Music at the Market from 3-5 p.m.: Free afternoon concert by David Grams, in instrumental guitarist playing a mix of classical, gypsy and modern music.
•July 17 – Downtown Business Day: Participating downtown businesses host various specials and events.
•July 31 – Elk River Area Arts Alliance Demo and Art Projects: A hands-on activity by artist Chris Wilson.
•Aug. 7 – Music at the Market from 3-5 p.m.: Free afternoon concert by David Grams.
•Aug. 14 – Author Craig Yelle from 3-5 p.m.: Action-packed series that appeals to upper elementary and middle school readers.
•Sept. 18 – Health Day and KARE 11 Mobile Health Unit from 2-5 p.m.: An opportunity for easy access to basic health screenings.