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Farmers Market season starts Saturday in Wichita. Here’s what’s in store for the big two

In World
April 04, 2024

It’s a rite of spring in Wichita.

No matter what kind of first-Saturday-of-April morning Mother Nature delivers, vendors and customers from all over Wichita head out for the season launch of the city’s two big markets.

It’ll happen again this Saturday, when both the Old Town Farm & Art Market and the Kansas Grown Farmers Market mark the official start of their seasons. Kansas Grown, which sets up in the parking lot of the Sedgwick County Extension Center at 21st and Ridge, will be open from 7 to noon, and the Old Town market at First and Mosley will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Here’s what both have planned for opening weekend and for their 2024 seasons:

OLD TOWN FARM & ART MARKET

The launch of this downtown market will mark its biggest opening in its 33-year-history, said market manager Luke Snow. It will feature nearly 100 vendors filling up Farm & Art Market Plaza and extending onto Mosley Street, which will be shut down to traffic.

As the season progresses, Snow said, the number of vendors usually steadies out to between 80 and 90 vendors a week, and the lineup includes longtime vendors selling things like kettle corn, homemade soap, specialty pasta, jewelry and succulent planters. There’s also food and beverages for sale, from bagged pastries to fresh coffee.

Local food trucks also set up each week at the market, Snow said, so people will find plenty to eat.

“You can get breakfast and brunch and lunch, and there’s lots of great shopping and street entertainers,” he said. “It’s definitely become a place for people to come and hang out and shop.”

Farm produce is scarce during the early days of the market each year, but shoppers will find vegetables on opening weekend — cool-weather crops like salad greens, turnips, radishes and carrots. As the weather heats up, summer crops like tomatoes will become more available.

Snow, who took over management of the market in 2017, said he’s noticed that it’s turning into a bit of a small-business incubator. Lots of vendors have been able to build their local followings at the market and have grown their businesses. Some success stories Snow named were Argentina’s Empanadas, Mi Sueno and Mamacita’s.

“That’s been really neat to see,” he said.

The Old Town Market accepts new vendor applications throughout the season. It will run every Saturday through Dec. 21. Once November arrives, it will shorten its hours.

The Kansas Grown Farmers Market at the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 21st and Ridge, also opens for the season on Saturday.

The Kansas Grown Farmers Market at the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 21st and Ridge, also opens for the season on Saturday.

KANSAS GROWN FARMERS MARKET

Across town, the Kansas Grown Farmers Market, which sets up at the Sedgwick County Extension Center, 7001 W. 21st St., will also open on Saturday and will be marking the start of its 34th season.

The market, which has been putting on once-a-month indoor winter markets since November, is ready to begin another busy year, said Tricia Holmes, the market’s board president.

“It’s doing well,” she said of the market. “It seems to get bigger and better every year.”

The west-side market has room for about 130 vendors each week but usually gets around 100. They come from all around the area and sell things like crafts, plants, pet treats, specialty meats and more. The west-side market also has a year-round tomato vendor that comes, though it will also be dealing mostly in cool-weather crops at the start of the season.

The Kansas Grown market also has live musicians, and has developed a “food court” near its north-side entrance that’s populated with local food trucks, including Want Bierock and Hot Berries & Crepes. Other local food trucks join in from week to week.

This year’s market will include mainstays like Troubles the Clown, who has been making balloon animals at the market for years, and Krista Sanderson from Eat Real America, who puts on cooking demonstrations.

The westside market also has big event days each year — including Herb Day (May 4), Kids’ Day (June 8) and Tomato Fest (Aug. 10) — and Holmes said those events will grow this year.

“We have some sponsors involved now, and that allows us to really go bigger,” she said.

The outdoor Kansas Grown market runs Saturdays through the end of October. It also puts on a satellite market at Madison Avenue Central Park in Derby, which this year starts on May 4.

The Kansas Grown Farmers Market sets up Saturdays from April through October in the Sedgwick County Extension Center parking lot.

The Kansas Grown Farmers Market sets up Saturdays from April through October in the Sedgwick County Extension Center parking lot.

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