Janel Rose is passionate about fresh produce and getting it onto the plates of as many Barton County residents as possible. That is why the Barton County Health Department health educator was excited about the upcoming Summer Street Stroll farmers market.
“It is a unique opportunity to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Rose told the Barton County Commission Monday morning. She has worked hand-in-hand with Christina Hayes, Great Bend’s community coordinator, to establish the market to be held in conjunction with summer concerts in Great Bend as part of the Health Department’s Chronic Disease Risk Reduction program.
In addition, there will be fresh baked goods, and arts and crafts. There may also be food vendors.
“It will be open for an eight-week season,” Rose said. The inaugural event is set for 5-8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at the Barton County Courthouse Square. This is in conjunction with the June Jaunt, a weekend tourism event featuring communities along K-96 from Tribune to Ellinwood.
After that, it will move to Thursdays to be a part of the Thirsty Thursdays activities in downtown Great Bend. It will wrap up in time for the Great Bend City Band concert in the band shell.
There is not charge to take part. But, Rose said sellers must fill out an application.
All those selling food items must adhere to the strict Kansas Department of Agriculture regulations. For example, there will be no fresh meat available. Rose said they also opted to have allow the sale of life animals.
“We are going to start small,” she said. Several vendors have already registered.
As the summer progresses, they may expand the dates the market is open.
There are already produce vendors who hold a farmers market on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings in the Great Bend Library parking lot, but this is not intended as competition, Rose said. “This will only enhance the farmers market. This is an addition.”
In fact, she said, many of those who take part in the other markets have signed up to be a part of the Summer Street Stroll.
“I think it is a wonderful idea,” commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. Many shoppers want to purchase fresh produce, but can’t make it to the library market and this would be more convenient.
Commission Chairman Homer Kruckenberg said the activity make bring an old-time atmosphere to the square. “It will enhance the band concerts.”
However, there was some concern among the commissioners that the regulations would be too stringent. Rose assured them the rules are only for public safety and would be easy to follow.