What makes a good farmer’s market?
Fruit of course. Brightly colored and fresh off of the vine or the tree, it takes a plethora of offerings in order to bring people out to shop on a weekly basis.
Vegetables are a necessity as well. It doesn’t matter what color they are as long as they’re recently harvested and full of the farm-to-table flavor that has turned downtown plazas and grounds into a weekly shopping trip for those who appreciate the hard work of local independent growers.
But despite having both of those, Manteca’s market had always suffered the same fate – a rush of people that are excited about its existence in the first few weeks of the season that slowly dwindles the later, and the hotter, it gets.
For the last three weeks Library Park and the street that faces it has been awash with people that appreciate a few minor upgrades to the experience.
New food vendors have been added. A beer garden has been implemented. And top-notch music and entertainment is now part of the bill and something that people can come out to appreciate on a weekly basis.
In short – the Manteca farmer’s market has become a miniature weekly festival of sorts.
Ask anybody that’s carnivorous what they enjoy the most about visiting any one of a number of local street fairs or festivals, and you’re likely to hear that a good Lockeford Sausage is going to be on the list. It used to be that you had to wait for special events to get a good German-style brat topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut, but now you can have one every week.
No need for a forklift upgrade to bring the people in – just give them a few of the items that they look for when searching for an experience like this.
I took one stroll around the market on the opening week and I could tell that the vibe and the sort of people that were visiting was different the die-hards that you’re going to get to come out every single week, regardless of what sort of perks or non-produce related items you have for sale.
The beer garden, for example, was bustling with people just enjoying a nice warm day beneath a shade tree, sipping on some of the micro offerings from the Lodi Brewing Company. Some had bags of fruit, and some didn’t. They were just happy to be there.
There are cities that have the standard weekly farmer’s market that caters specifically to those looking for fruits and vegetables, and then you’ve got places like San Luis Obispo that has turned the experience in the quaint college community into a destination for people that span the generations. College kids mill about outside of bars and converse in the street and people are just generally pleased to be enjoying the company and the uniqueness of the event near their own homes.
I think that Manteca has that now. You need that cross-section of customers to make any sort of event successful, and while the crowds along the Central Coast’s flagship community might dwarf the number of those that are coming out on a regular basis to Library Park, it seems that the word is out about what it has become and what it can become in the future.
Give the people what they want. Give them fresh fruits and vegetables, a lively atmosphere, a good band and some good beer and you’ll be amazed at what happens.
That’s what is happening now.
Excuse me. I have a Lockeford sausage to eat and some vegetables to grill to go along with the uniquely flavored hummus I picked up on Tuesday.
I suggest you do the same.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell, email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.