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Bid to recover park costs may chase farmers market out

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POSTED May 14, 2009 2:04 a.m.
Manteca’s drive to recover “100 percent of all costs” for park use could drive the farmers market out of downtown Manteca’s Library Park.

The market will start on Tuesday, June 2, and run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Library Park. Whether it stays there for the summer is another question.

Municipal staff has told the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau that if the fees go forward it will cost $100 a week. The farmers market currently averages $150 a week in vendor fees which just about covers all expenses except staff time.

“It was never intended to be a money maker but we can’t afford to lose money either,” said Linda Abeldt, CVB executive director.

The farmers who participate – there are a dozen – are charged $25 for the market’s duration that runs through the end of July.

“That is pretty standard charge for a farmers market for a grower in the valley,” Abeldt said. “There are not that many smaller family farms left as they’re now mostly large farms. A lot of farmers markets are going to the wayside.”

Abeldt said growers are pleased with the turn out at the Manteca markets. It is also close enough to their operations – almost all are within a 25-mile radius of Manteca – to make it work for them. The balance of the vendor fees come from others that participate in the weekly Tuesday evening markets.

Abeldt, who said she understands what the city is up against, has asked for a fee waiver for the market. If the City Council says no, they will simply move to a private location outside the downtown area.

“We’re not going to cancel the market,” Abeldt said. “We will still stage it but it will be on private property.”

The farmers market is part of the CVB’s effort to generate traffic in the downtown area as well as promote area agricultural concerns. Although not all downtown businesses are open during the market, there are a few that report increased Tuesday evening business such as restaurants. Others have used the farmers market to promote their central district business in a bid to get Tuesday evening visitors to return during the week.
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