Nearly six months after they were handed control of the Downtown Sarasota Farmers Market, the market vendors are instituting a series of improvements that they hope will make the market more popular than ever.
After more than 50 vendors asked the City Commission in September to take control of the market away from the Downtown Partnership and let them manage it themselves, the commission complied.
Vendors assured the commissioners that they had solid plans for the market, and now they’re starting to institute them.
“We’re trying to be more a part of the community,” said Phil Pagano, market manager.
Among the new features is a workshop series, in which experts in different fields conduct seminars at Lemon Avenue and State Street. The topics mainly deal with organic living and preserving the environment, but future workshops may include cooking instruction.
Non-profits, such as the American Heart Association and Relay for Life, have been invited to promote their causes. And in the near future, the market will feature live jazz music from professional musicians and students.
But the change that has created the most buzz is the idea of covering the market with a microfiber sheet. It would provide shade during the summer months and shelter during the rain.
There’s no timetable on when the covering, which is estimated to cost about $15,000, may arrive downtown.
Pagano said all these improvements are not just designed to secure more customers for market vendors.
“We also want to bring more business to downtown merchants,” he said, which was the original purpose of the farmers market when it first opened 30 years ago.
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