The Huntley Farmers Market is ending its sixth season, which saw the market grow steadily as vendors dealt with Mother Nature.
Huntley Farmers Market is holding Fall Harvest Day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 at its regular location on Coral Street.
Fall produce, like squash, winter potatoes, and pumpkins, are available now. One of the market’s newest vendors, Royal Oak Orchard in Harvard, has been bringing a variety of apples, sauces, apple fritters and apple cider donuts, said Barb Read, the market’s manager.
The day’s events include a craft fair, free kids activities like pumpkin decorating, a live cooking demonstration where people can learn how to make meals in 10 minutes and free entertainment with local musician Andrew Huber, Read said.
“It should be fun,” she said.
It’s been a good season for the farmers market, Read said.
“We had new vendors, we had a lot of new people come on a weekly basis. We saw a lot of new regulars this year. That’s great, that's how a market should grow,” Read said.
An average of 300 to 350 people came out to the market on a weekly basis this summer and early fall, she said.
Vendors seem to be happy with how the market is going and like the special theme days that draw more people to the downtown square, she said. “The best way I know we are doing better each year is talking to the vendors,” she said.
The weather also cooperated for the market, but not so much for farmers.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard had issues with lower apple production, as other farms did, but were able to bring apples to the farmers market, she said. Other vendors had issues with production due to this summer’s drought, she said.
“All of our vendors, except one, grow on their own property. While they had a wide variety (of produce), they did not have the quantities they usually brought in the past,” Read said.
One vendor had to scour eight acres of cornfields to gather seven bags of corn to bring to the market, she said. “It was a real eye opener for me that they had to do so much to bring quality (produce) to our market.”
Another vendor, Early Bird Farms, was indirectly affected by the drought. The farm sells fresh meat items_ including pork_ and found the price of feed increased due to the drought, Read said.
“He tried to keep his prices as low as possible. He did a fabulous job,” she said. “(The prices) were very competitive to what you’d get in the store, but it’s fresh from the farm.”
As the season ends, Read is looking toward next year.
“I have already been talking to vendors,” she said. She usually contacts vendors in January but she plans to do some brainstorming with farmers and business owners next month on new ideas for the ninth season.