COLUMBIA - The new year is bringing new changes to the Columbia Farmers Market. The Executive Director is adding a Wednesday evening market.
“That’s kind our biggest thing for the next year that we’re looking towards,” Corrina Smith said. “We just want to find ways that work best to get people here.”
The weekly market will be from 3 P.M. to 7 P.M. starting May 25th and will run through September 14, 2022. However, the market formerly hosted weekday markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Liz Graznak has been a vendor for the market for 10 years and said she believes twice a week was too much.
“I think that both the vendors and the market struggled with attendance,” Graznak said.
Graznak said she’s planning to participate in the Wednesday market because this market will be very different. Smith said the market will partner with Columbia Parks and Recreation to make it a community event.
“We’ll have a space for people that can come get dinner, but also shop,” Smith said. “We’ll have live music, and it’ll be a really great family outing in the evening.”
Columbia Parks and Recreation started hosting the food truck roundup in May 2021. The Columbia Farmers Market will also have some food truck vendors. Smith said they hope to build on the success from 2021.
“We saw basically our best year ever,” Smith said. “We broke record after record. We had the most amount of customers that has ever come through here.”
The market won #1 “People’s Choice” farmers market in the nation in Sept. 2021. While the market has been around for over 40 years, Smith said it’s become more popular in the last five years.
“I like to say we were local before local was a trend,” Smith said. “But the pavilion has been such a game changer for us.”
Each market hosts around 70 vendors and up to 4,000 guests on average. Smith said the pavilion currently covers one third of the vendors on a given Saturday, but soon that may change.
“Hopefully construction will begin on our pavilion some time in the fall of 2022, so all of our vendors will be under one roof,” Smith said.
Extending the pavilion would also allow the market to have more vendors. All vendors are within 50 miles of Columbia, and all vendors are producers only, meaning they have to grow raise or make their products.
“We’re looking for more produce, dairy, and poultry vendors this year,” Smith said.
There’s currently an application open for new vendors.