While the Market at Lakewood Ranch will switch sites and days beginning Nov. 3, the end result will mean more shopping and entertainment possibilities for those who live in Lakewood Ranch and its surrounding area.
Monaca Onstad, the director of community relations for Lakewood Ranch Communities, announced the Market at Lakewood Ranch will begin a Sunday run at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center for the next year or two before it switches permanently to the new Waterside Place, which could come online as early as late 2020.
Onstad started the Market at Lakewood Ranch in 2017 at the Sarasota Polo Club and had immediate success. With more than 20,000 visitors in the last year and an average of 40 vendors, things were going well, but Onstad saw the opportunity to enrich a positive relationship with Lakewood Ranch Medical Center while also allowing the Sarasota Polo Club to begin a new Wednesday event.
"The (farmers' market) industry today is all about wellness," Onstad said. "This will be the perfect event to showcase the hospital. And it helps us to get Waterside ready."
She said Wednesdays were fantastic at the Sarasota Polo Club but new opportunities will be available for more people.
While the Market at Lakewood Ranch has left the polo club, a family-friendly food truck rally will replace it on Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 8. Besides food and live music, cornhole tournaments will be available each week along with children's activities.
Onstad said she isn't worried about having a farmers' market on a Sunday in Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, even though similar markets have failed in the past. A Sunday schedule was picked because the hospital's parking lot is basically wide open on weekends and because they didn't want to compete with the Sarasota Farmers' Market, which is held on Saturdays. Many of the vendors who came to Lakewood Ranch on Wednesdays sell at the Sarasota Farmers' Market.
"We sent out surveys to our vendors if they would make it on a Sunday, and everyone said Sundays work for them," Onstad said. "We've also had seven inquiries from new vendors about Sundays and we haven't even announced the move yet."
She expects to have more than 40 vendors at the hospital, wth the farmers' market being set up in the parking lot in front of the women's center. Lakewood Ranch Communities advertises heavily for its market, and that proves invaluable to the vendors.
The market will run through April 26.
Onstad also said the market should do better than past markets in the Main Street area because "people are a little more conscious about where their food comes from."
While the Market at Lakewood Ranch is expected to have more vendors overall, it should have less food trucks than it did at the Sarasota Polo Club. Onstad said they don't want to compete with the polo club's Wednesday night food truck event.
She also predicts success for the Wednesday night event, which could also include some live polo depending on the club's schedule.
"I am in a mom's group and I am involved in the mom's community," Onstad said. "I know the parents were managing their school calendar around Wednesdays (for the market) and they will continue to do so."
Morgan Bettes will contine to be the manager of the Market at Lakewood Ranch.