The 2016 Champaign County Farmers Market will kick off its season at 9 a.m. on Saturday at its East Market Street location. As always, the market will run from May until the end of October, but a change has been made to the hours of operation. While it will still open at 9 a.m., the market will now close each Saturday at noon. It’s just one of the changes that patrons will see at the market.
The location will remain the same, directly behind the firehouse and city building, at the corner of Market and Locust streets.
The market is a showcase of Champaign County growers and producers who sell products directly to the consumer. Customers get the advantage of fresh, local, seasonally produced products. Market offerings include local meats, eggs, honey, produce, breads, pretzels, baked goods, fresh herbs, flowers, garlic, crafts and spices.
There is a changing of the guard in terms of the leadership of the market as Mark Runyan takes over as market president. He replaces Lonny Lefever, who was market president for many years.
“With my growing business at Oakview Farm Meats, my everyday farming and my family business of local, generational pork producers, along with the popularity of my new business, Hippie and the Farmer, that I started along with Cosmic Charlie Bread, I decided that it was time to cut down on my travels to out-of-town markets and concentrate on the market that is local and where I got my start in markets,” Runyan said. “I am a local producer who felt it was important to return to my local roots. I wanted to bring all that I have learned over the years at other markets back to this local market to help guide and build its strength.”
Runyan noted that market patrons include drivers, walkers and cyclists and once was voted “The Best Small Town Market’ in the country in the America’s Favorite Farmers Market campaign.
“As I step into my new position of president, I welcome Charlene Stapleton, of Swisher Hill Herbs, as my vice president; Joe Stapleton, of Swisher Hill Herbs as market treasurer; Michelle Comer, of Homecomer Traditions, as market events coordinator; and Pam Bowshier, of Cosmic Charlie Bread/Hippie and the Farmer, as the social media coordinator of the market,” Runyan said. “We are excited to welcome the changes of new market hours, new leadership, and the return of market events each Saturday.
“We look forward to the return of a crowded market of vendors and customers, and we are excited to welcome back so many vendors who once got their start at this local market. With increased signs, promotions and social media, we hope to make everyone in the community aware of our presence and of our dedication to bringing them the best local products from our county,” he added.
Each week, the market plans to showcase an individual grower, vendor or producer. “We want to feature their farms, their livelihood and their places of producing,” Runyan said. “We are proud of our local producers and feel that a weekly showcase will help connect them with their loyal customer base. The market will see weekly entertainment, activities, nonprofit groups and vendors coming together to co-exist in some shared booth spaces for cross-promoting each other, and, of course, our loyal vendors who grow and produce in Champaign County.”
Information submitted by Mark Runyan, president, and Pamela Bowshier, social media coordinator, on behalf of the Champaign County Farmers Market.