The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market (AMSFM) will kick off its sixth season on Saturday May 7th on the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street. If you haven’t experienced a Saturday at the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market in the past five years, you’ve been missing out – it is truly a weekly showcase of our community at its most vibrant.
Picture Main Street filled with people – families, college students, and even seniors. Music from a local artist fills the air along with delicious smells of local food offerings. Visitors stroll along the rows of over 80 vendors offering fresh local produce, meats, honey, eggs, coffee, baked goods, jams, cut flowers, perennials and bedding plants among other locally handcrafted items by local artists/craftsman. Children fill the sidewalk with chalk drawings in the art area, enjoying one of the other weekly free children’s activities or waiting in line for the petting zoo, pony rides or bounce house.
CY and the ISU Cheer Squad have been known to make appearances at the Market, and if you happen to visit on the right Saturday you might get to be a taste-tester for the Annual Salsa Contest, Annual Chili Cook Off, The Annual ‘Bacon Sweet & Savory’ contest or enjoy some free watermelon for “Watermelon Days.”
The weekly cooking demonstration at the Chef’s Table showcases the talents of local chefs throughout the season using fresh produce, meat, eggs, fruit and many other local ingredients directly from the Market.
With all this to offer, the AMSFM draws an average of 2,770 people downtown each Saturday May-October. A majority of them are members of the Ames community, but the market also draws people from 10 surrounding communities plus Ankeny and Des Moines.
Looking at the growth of the market we’ve seen over the past five years, it’s safe to say that there was a demand in Ames for locally-produced goods that has been filled. People like the atmosphere of the market and enjoy coming to Main Street each Saturday to visit with their favorite vendors and pick up fresh produce for the week. It is exciting that with all the amenities that the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market has to offer we are accomplishing our goal of becoming a destination location in the heart of downtown Ames.
The AMSFM is something that great not only for the community, but for our local businesses on Main Street. Each Saturday during the Market, they have a built-in customer base of over 2,000 people that pass by their business. Business-owners are permitted and encouraged to move merchandise outside into the sidewalk area during this time to get their products in front of market-goers.
The Market has also proven to be an incubator for its vendors. Two very popular vendors from last year’s market can tell you this first-hand. Local Yocal’s, a family-owned business that got its start three years ago at the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market will have a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Des Moines starting in April. The Salt & Pretzel Company got its start on Main Street last year and now has a shop located in the Ames Somerset area.
May 7th is not far away, so I invite you put it on your calendar and stop down at the Market this year to experience first-hand all that Ames has to offer. To keep up to date on weekly vendors, kids’ activities and special events at the Market please bookmark www. AmesMainStreetFarmersMarket.com and become a fan on Facebook (Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market) or follow the Market on Twitter (AmesFarmersMkt). See you at the Market!
-Dan Culhane, President & CEO Ames Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Commission