The Midtown Farmers Market reopened Saturday with changes that organizers hope will draw more traffic.
The market, between J and K streets, is flanked by alfresco diners at LowBrau Bierhall, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and other establishments on the 20th Street strip. The 50 or so vendor tents, which offer everything from fresh greens to artisan jewelry, were previously arranged in two rows on both sides of the street, with shoppers walking down the middle. Unseen Heroes, the event management company hired to revamp the market, staggered the tents to allow for more strolling between them, said co-founder Maritza Davis.
The company also created an open area amid the maze of tents for a “budding foodies” kid zone and a few picnic tables.
“Over all, we want it to be fun and exciting and somewhere people can connect with their community,” Davis said.
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New signage draws attention to the market’s produce, which comes from farms in the Sacramento region. James Brock, owner of Farmelot in Tehama County, was one of a handful of new vendors who joined the lineup Saturday. He has sold produce at the market held Sundays under the W-X freeway before but never the midtown market.
“We came here because we thought the energy here was good,” he said. “We really like to be part of communities that are trying to do something and move forward.”
About 700 to 1,000 shoppers generally attend the event, but the goal is to boost attendance to 1,500, said Emily Baime Michaels of the Midtown Business Association, which runs the market.
Organizers hope to get more local businesses and restaurateurs to participate.
Saturday’s event included a live cooking demonstration from Hook and Ladder Manufacturing Company.
“Markets in urban areas that are really successful don’t exist as a standalone market in a parking lot – they interact with the businesses and buildings around them,” Baime Michaels said. “We’re trying to continue to position ourselves as a market for gourmet eaters and for chefs.”
Sammy Love, an Oak Park resident and frequent midtown market attendee, said the event seemed better organized and more professional this week. He was relaxing with other young parents as their toddlers played on a patch of artificial grass populated by mock vegetable stands.
“The children’s section in the center is much appreciated,” he said. “With the bouncy cows and the play area farmers market, so the kids can stay included.”
Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.