Updated Mon, Jun 23, 2014 11:40 am
The Athens Farmers Market will offer evening hours for the first time starting June 19, offering three markets a week throughout the summer and fall.
According to Athens Farmers Market Manager Kip Parker, in addition to the Wednesday and Saturday morning market hours, vendors will also be offering goods every Thursday evening from 4-7 p.m.
“We’ve had customers ask for an evening market,” Parker said. He said the evening market will include approximately 15-20 vendors selling fruits and vegetables and also prepared food so customers can swing by the market on their evening commute and pick up dinner.
"We are hoping to appeal to customers on their way home after work who might not come to town on Saturday," said Athens Farmers Market Board President Larry Cowdery in an email to The Messenger on Friday.
Some of the vendors at the Thursday market will be those who have been on a waiting list to sell at the Saturday market. Some of those on the waiting list have been permitted to vend on Wednesdays as well.
"We have opened the Thursday market to people on our waiting list so it will give some new vendors a chance to sell," Cowdery added.
According to Parker, there are about 40-45 vendors on the waiting list, however he said that number is a bit misleading, as some of those vendors have moved since being placed on the list. Others may have been put on the list but don’t have the volume of produce available to sell yet.
The Thursday market may run through mid- to late-October “depending on how it goes,” Parker said. The Saturday market is held year-round, but the Wednesday market only operates from April to just before Christmas. Parker said it will likely be difficult to operate evening hours once it starts getting dark earlier.
The Wednesday morning market currently has about 20 vendors, but Parker said that number grows to about 35 once more produce is ripe for the picking. The Saturday market currently has more than 60 vendors. Parker said this number could rise to the 80s further into the season. He said there were 100 vendors at the Saturday markets last summer, noting that the market board wanted to see how the location fared before adding more vendors.
The Athens Farmers Market was shifted further east in The Market on State parking lot last year year after construction began for Texas Roadhouse in the parking lot. Parker said he didn’t think space is going to be an issue for the Thursday evening markets.
“The mall owners seem to think it won’t be a problem,” Parker said.
Parker said that some vendors will opt to sell during the Thursday market instead of Wednesday, but said other vendors are excited to be able to sell three days a week.
“We hope our customers will come out and we’ll try our best to get as many vendors to the Thursday market as possible,” Parker said.
The Saturday and Wednesday markets are held from 9 a.m. to noon.