Farmers market idea gets good response

Organizer could use a few more volunteers

Warren Bluhm,

In a perfect world, the Oconto County Farmers Market will debut June 6 and operate every Thursday through Aug. 29. (Contributed image)

She has a name and a logo, a schedule and a lot of people saying it’s a great idea.

Now she could use a little help.

Sophie Ford, proprietor of Corki’s Cup of Joy coffee shop in Oconto Falls, has been pitching the idea of an Oconto County farmers market for several months, gathering information and moral support.

If everything falls into place, the market will operate 4-8 p.m. Thursdays in the parking lot of Highland Plaza, the shopping center where Corki’s is located at 323 E. Highland Drive, from June 6 through Aug. 29 — except July 4.

First, everything needs to fall into place, beginning with a cadre of volunteers to help execute the plan.

“If we do this right, it’s going to be large,” Ford said Friday. “I can’t do it all just myself.”

Ford has seen the success of farmers markets in other communities like Green Bay, where the markets have outgrown venues and whole city blocks are given over to vendors and entertainment on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

“People can bring their families, do some shopping, enjoy music and a beer — enjoy themselves,” she said.

Volunteers could help with parking, some of the basic setup and take-down or operate a concession stand. Ford is also looking for local farmers interested in selling their produce and other wares, and she’s compiling a list of arts and crafts vendors as well as musicians interested in performing a night or two.

One sticking point is getting a beer permit for the weekly event. Ford is working with the city and local nonprofit organizations to obtain a city permit to sell beer.

“There are four breweries in the Green Bay area that have said they’re willing to come up on Thursday nights, but first we need to work out the permit,” Ford said.

City Administrator Vicki Roberts is on board with a local farmers market.

“I love the idea — if we as the city can make it work, I’m all for it,” Roberts said. “People are attracted to farmers markets to find healthy options for their tables in a family-friendly environment.”

Ford said she conceived of the idea as a countywide attraction — that’s why it says “Oconto County” in the name and on the logo — and she has been seeking vendors and volunteers around the area.

“This is going to happen,” she said confidently. “If not this year, next year for certain. The reaction has been very, very positive.”

For information and/or to volunteer, contact Ford at 920-848-2445.