Rotary Park boosts Farmers Market business

A three-year centennial community service project by the Oak Harbor Noon Rotary was capped off last week by a ceremony at the grounds of the Farmers Market.

Rotarians gathered to celebrate the successful effort and place a “Rotary Park” plaque on a large rock. The school district owns the property but supports the Farmers Market and Rotary’s efforts to improve the grounds.

“Rotary has been one of our stellar community partners,” said Peg Tennant, Farmers Market manager.

The project not only made the market grounds look better and work better for the vendors, it also spurred the market to impressive growth in recent years.

Tennant said that in 2003 when Rotary went to work, there was an average of 50 vendors each market day. The next year vendors increased on 60, and this year there are typically 75 vendors selling their products each Thursday, which is market day in Oak Harbor.

“We’re way ahead of last year’s sales,” Tennant added, estimating that gross sales this year will increase by 25 percent over last year. That follows a 20 percent increase the previous year.

“It definitely has paid off,” she said of the Rotary project.

The Oak Harbor market started down by City Beach Park in 1997 with only half a dozen vendors on site on a typical market day. After moving around a bit, market organizers settled in at their current location, where success has grown each year. Each market day the vendors now average a total of $10,000 in sales, according to Tennant, and that figure promises to grow in the future thanks to the Rotary’s efforts.

Tennant singled out Rotarian Karl Krieg for spearheading the project. “It’s pretty much been his pet project,” she said.

Krieg, who owns a construction company, oversaw the effort to improve the Farmers Market site, located next to the Chamber of Commerce office on Highway 20. Over the first two years there was extensive grading and brush clearing, and this year Rotary volunteers put in a new access road.

Describing the result of the effort, Tennant said “it gives our customers a nice smooth walkway and delineates the avenue for the market. It’s more accessible for folks and makes it easier for the vendors.”

The market is now situated in an open wooded area with an inviting mix of sunlight and shade, plus safe and easy access for both customers and vendors.

“It’s now one of the loveliest markets in the state,” Tennant said, thanking Rotary members for their efforts.

The Oak Harbor Farmers Market will remain open each Thurs

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