According to Delite Primus, executive director of the Youth Garden Project, which organizes the Farmers’ Market each year, attendance at the market had been declining over the past four years despite attempts to boost publicity and increase interest. In attempting to discover the reason for the lower attendance numbers, Youth Garden staff discovered that many local people spent their Saturday mornings hiking or doing other activities, or headed out of town for weekend excursions.
Primus said she set out to find a solution to the issue by talking with regular customers, vendors, and directors of farmers’ markets in other towns.
“[Evening markets] seemed like they were working in other towns, and people were excited about trying to change to get more people to the market,” Primus said. “We chose Thursday night because it’s close enough to the weekend that there are a pretty large number of tourists already here for the weekend, but people are still working and are still in town. It seems to be working in that it seems that a lot of people are going after work, or once they get back into town from a day in the parks and hiking or being on the river.”
Primus said that while attendance on Thursdays still fluctuates from week-to-week, the changes have sparked a significant improvement in the number of people coming to the market.
“Finding parking has become one of our biggest problems,” she said. “But honestly, some weeks are very busy, and some weeks are closer to what last year was, but we’re seeing improvement. We’re continuing to try and get word about the farmers’ market out there; we’re asking vendors to talk to their customers so we can bring their audience to the market and promote their products.”
Some of the unpredictability of the market during this time of year is a simple matter of agriculture. While the farmers’ market features a variety of farmers and artisans, it is primarily comprised of produce vendors. At this time of the year, the last of the spring produce harvest such as salad greens has been completed but the summer products, such as tomatoes, are not quite ready for harvest.
“But there’s been a lot of produce there ... there’s been more produce there and more growers there than any time in the past six years,” Primus said. “We are doing our best to create a place for locals and tourists to come and support some local businesses, both growers and artists, and a place for growers and artists to market their goods. I would encourage everyone to come out and enjoy themselves.”
Each week, the Moab Farmers’ Market features a wide variety of vendors selling produce, dairy, meat products and other edible goods, as well as artisans and performers. The Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. at Swanny City Park, 400 North and 100 West.