Monday Q&A: Riverbank farmers market has much to offer

05/25/2014 4:03 PM

05/25/2014 9:18 PM

Fresh produce, live music, free games and movies, help finding a job – who needs more reasons to swing by the Riverbank farmers market?

By popular demand, the weekly event has returned to its previous home in the shady Riverbank Community Center Park, 3600 Santa Fe Ave. It’s hosted by the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce in coordination with summertime family-friendly Wednesday Night Out, running each Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. The farmers market will continue through Sept. 17.

Guy Berkey, the chamber’s farmers market manager, answers questions about the weekly gathering.

How does a farmers market help a community?

In several ways: by giving people a safe place to enjoy local, farm-fresh produce, building a hub for free entertainment in a tough economy, and helping families build lasting, positive memories.

How did the chamber get involved?

The chamber was asked by the city of Riverbank to take over operations.

What’s different about this year’s farmers market?

We have combined the family fun nights that were run by the city together with the farmers market to increase attendance. Relocating the farmers market back to its original night and location (after spending a few years on Saturday mornings, on Patterson Road in the parking lot between Cool Hand Luke’s Steakhouse and the Galaxy 12 Theatres) was encouraged by the city, as well as several citizens. Also, there is more shade close to the community center and pool.

Where does the produce come from?

Most of the farmers are located right here in Stanislaus County, with a strong emphasis on the Riverbank area. Closer is fresher!

We hear that there is more to this farmers market than fruit and vegetables. What other attractions will the chamber bring?

The farmers market does offer much more. We have live music, food and craft vendors and, for the very first time, we added a jobs fair feature on first and third Wednesdays.

We kicked off the season with a live performance by the Randy Mandy Band out of Knights Ferry. We’re planning to showcase other local artists and promote them though our print media and sponsors, with hopes to get them seen by larger venues and get more public exposure. I would like to think we are “farm- and band-friendly.”

What other groups are sponsoring additional events to combine with the farmers market?

The city of Riverbank is a sponsor, along with the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce. Everyone in each city department has been wonderful in helping us with what is needed.

Describe what someone sees when they visit on Wednesdays.

A lot of fun!

Who is the typical visitor? Are you trying to reach a certain crowd?

We are not just looking to attract the average marketgoer. We’re reaching out to different groups of all walks of life and differing social and financial backgrounds. Our typical visitor is everyone. We are trying to have it be an event that anyone can come out and enjoy.

What about people who don’t have a lot of money to spend?

We have several activities that are free, such as games and face painting, along with free music. We also have senior vouchers and we accommodate those who qualify for EBT and WIC (Electronic Benefit Transfer and Women, Infants and Children) benefits. Job seekers should come on first and third Wednesdays for exposure to jobs and to have fun at the same time.

Where can people find more information?

www.riverbankchamber.org

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