KINGSBURG – The returning Kingsburg Farmers’ Market may be small for now, but when it comes to enthusiasm, it was mighty during its first run May 30.

Kingsburg Chamber of Commerce has taken the markets back on and as Director Kaitlyn Castaneda predicts, what will make the difference now will be more community participation.

“It can’t just be Kaitlyn doing it because then, [the markets] are hard for the community to support. I can’t reach the whole community,” she said.

In 2017, Ag Marketing Worldwide CEO Peter DeYoung took over management of the farmers’ market. He operates the markets in Clovis and Fresno and in an interview then said it’s taken decades for those markets to grow enough to draw the crowds that they do today. The markets started as a way to draw customers to the area during the middle of the week.

“River Park needed an event and a year later, we became experts by building community awareness and product awareness of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Now, here we are with an entire generation of people coming to the market.”

The difference in making the market last is an increase in foot traffic, he said in that prior interview.

Castaneda said Kingsburg’s Chamber has taken back management of the markets after a year’s absence.

“A lot of it was it was hard to get it going. [DeYoung] works with places like River Park and that’s a lot bigger with a lot more activity. A lot more people want to actually come out and this is a smaller community so it’s hard to compare the two, really.”

Castaneda said she thinks having more local residents pitching in to spread awareness, share ideas and reach out to their contacts will help the market grow and thrive.

“This year, we have a lot of local people like Debbie [Singh Forbes] and Chase [Viramontes] and Jenn [Guerra] who are helping out.”

Singh Forbes said she’s spreading the word about the Farmers Market by talking with family and friends to help promote the event.

“If we have a few more people doing the same thing, it just exponentially grows from there. It’s no different than a business growing by word of mouth.”

Viramontes said he lives in Fresno now, but he recalls Kingsburg’s markets when he was growing up. After seeing how festive other communities’ farmers markets are, he wants to help develop Kingsburg’s into that type of atmosphere.

“I just really want to make it something special. I think our town deserves something bigger with a lot more produce,” he said. Between Kingsburg’s scenic Downtown and influx of new restaurants and shops, he thinks the Farmers Market could be just the draw that brings in more visitors.

“We really want both - more vendors and more customers.”

As vendors packed up after the first night, Castaneda said her goal is to grow the event each week by adding more vendors and different activities.

“It started off small, but pretty good.”

Once the Kingsburg City Band’s Summer Concerts start, the two events will combine for six weeks at Memorial Park and then return to Draper.

“It just depends on what the community wants. As we progress, we’ll keep adding more things and see what more we can do with it,” Castaneda said.

Vendors this first time out included fruit and veggie booths, a coffee and tea stand, berries, wines and jams, flowers, honey, kettle corn and sausage sandwiches.

Palsgaarden Organics run by Brandon and Abigail Palsgaard was among local vendors. They’ve taken part in the town’s farmers’ markets before when it was at Coffee Pot Park, Memorial Park and also on Draper Street. They like the idea of working with brick-and-mortar stores to bring in customers to town.

“We decided to come back since it would be Downtown and that’s what we want to do - encourage people to come Downtown,” Brandon Palsgaard said.

Brandon said he’s been to Santa Cruz’s farmers market, grew up farming and enjoys the outdoor setting of the markets.

“Out here, it brings me back. I live in town but I grow my tomatoes and basils organically in the backyard. It’s just being outside that’s a lot different, especially when the weather cooperates. It’s freeing feeling and everybody seems a lot happier than when they’re bunched up in box. Here, you can come out, watch me prepare food for you and it’s just a better ambiance.”

Cesar Ramirez and Lucy Vasquez offered a number of fruits and vegetables at their stand. They grow their own produce - cherries, nectarines, lime, almonds and pistachios - on a two-acre farm outside Selma near Highway 41. Ramirez has been selling at farmer’s markets for four years now and said although Kingsburg is a small town, he enjoys bringing something different to the customers.

“It’s slow but the people come and see new things they’ve never seen. What I’m bringing is new to them.”

They were also selling miniature and sour mangos, small bananas, along with regular mangos, cactus fruit and sweet beans called guamuchiles that has a dry coconut, floral taste.

“They ask me about everything and I tell them what to do,” he said customers’ questions about how to prepare or eat the fruit.

Customer Leibnizth Martin Del Campo, of Selma, came to check out The Nitro Bike’s coffee offerings first. She was trying the nitro oat milk latte and had lavender vanilla added to her drink. Stand owner Alex Pujol said adding nitrogen to the drink makes them smoother and richer.

“I enjoy that you’re supporting local businesses and local people,” Martin Del Campo said. “I feel like I can trust the local people a little bit more,” she said of preferring to eat healthier foods. “I feel more comfortable supporting them and having our money flow here and I can be more confident with what I’m eating.”

The Markets are scheduled to run from 5-8 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 26 and organizers say the goal is to grow the event from one block on Draper Street to include something for all ages. Ideas include having yoga lessons, themed nights, salsa lessons, a beer garden, children’s activities and a lounge area for hanging out.

For those interested in having a spot at the Kingsburg Farmers’ Market, call the Chamber at 897-1111. The seasonal fee is $100.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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