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Ripon farmers market moving to Town Square
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RIPON – Farmers market appears to be on the move.

The Ripon City Council paved the way Tuesday to relocate the event from downtown to the Town Square Shopping Center formerly home to Mar-Val Food Stores.

The plan would allow for 32-vendor spaces in the parking lot of the shopping center at Main Street and Wilma Avenue while providing plenty of convenient parking.

Try 187 parking spaces, to be exact.

“We looked at several locations,” said Councilman Chuck Winn, who made mention of the Ripon Community Center, Mistlin Sports Complex, and, of course, downtown.

He added that the previous location was a “happening sort of place” situated on Main Street just east of the intersection with Stockton Avenue, bringing with it a festive atmosphere during the summer months

The location was also a known commodity featuring an old-town feel and, with it, attracting pedestrian traffic to some of the downtown restaurants.

But the new site offers some possibilities.

For starters, Town Square is within walking distance for the elderly residents of Bethany Homes, according to Winn.

The shopping center area also has room for growth, featuring more restaurants and would not impede street traffic. The downtown streets, for example, had to be closed off to vehicle traffic in the early afternoon.

“At Mar-Val, there would be no disruption to the businesses,” Winn said. “We would also have reduction of police use.”

Council was made aware of the negatives.

“There’s not that warm, fuzzy feel to having a farmers market in a parking lot,” he said.

Winn also had concerns that folks may be unfamiliar with the new location.

 His colleagues, Garry Krebbs and Dean Uecker, supported the plan.

“I talked to a couple of businesses,” Uecker said. “Neither really liked having (farmers market) downtown. Both were restaurant owners – they preferred to see it moved.”

 Added Krebbs: “It seems as if Town Square is the desired place among the produce vendors.”

The new Ripon farmers market could debut on Thursday, May 12, and would run each Thursday after that through Aug. 11, operating from 4 to 7 p.m.

Vendors can begin setting up at 3:30 and will have from 7 to 8 p.m. to clean up.

“The only way (farmers market) will be a success is if vendors are making money,” Mayor Elden “Red” Nutt said.