Get ready for Pet Days at the Farmers’ Market
The season may be winding down for the Fayette County Farmers Market but there is a lot left to do.
In fact this Saturday is one of the biggest days of the year for the farmers market. Not because it necessarily benefits them anymore than a regular Saturday market day; instead because it benefits another community group. The Fayette County Farmers Market will have their annual “Pet Days at the Farmers Market” from 9 a.m. to noon which is a fundraiser for the local animal shelter.
“I like the thought of using the market as a community tool and outreach to help support other community projects,” Fayette County Farmers Market Manager Stephanie Ruf said. “It’s very important to have that outreach. To get people involved and say ‘I could volunteer for this, I could help out, I have the ability to do this.’ We’ve had other organizations out, like the Blessing Box Project. They sell items that directly benefit. They take donations at the market. Those are big things.”
Outside of being able to bring your own leashed pet, people who shop at the market have the chance to help out the Fayette County Animal Shelter by donating beds, food, toys, cleaning supplies or other supplies for pets. They will also accept monetary donations for the shelter. In exchange for the donation the donor will get a $2 voucher to be used that day at the market when purchasing goods from any of the numerous vendors that gather to sell their products. This voucher is $2 per family or per person. Ruf emphasized it was not per item donated.
Ruf said last year a community member sponsored an adoption, and expressed that she was hopeful to have a few animals at the market from the shelter that would be available for adoption at the event.
There was also a “cutest pet contest” that was organized in part with collaboration between the market and Connersville High School Student Karmen Parrish who has helped at the market. People submitted photos of their pets, and the judges for the contest picked the top two, and the owners of the winning pets will get a prize basket at the market this Saturday. The winners for the contest were Bella owned by Magan Harmon and Sadie owned by Kandy Poe (winning pets pictured in this article).
Ruf said she hopes events like this can get the community more involved in their local farmers’ market.
“We want to involve the community a little bit more in the market, make them feel more a part of it because the market is such a community event,” Ruf said. “We have people that come who just hang out and meet and greet the whole time and it’s great. I love seeing the same people, but also we have new people this year that have been coming to the market that didn’t know we had a market. Reaching those different demographics to bring in and rally around a community project like the animal shelter is a major thing.”
This Saturday is the last regularly scheduled Saturday market of the year, but Ruf said the market will have pop-up market days in the park on October 6 and 20 from 5 to 7 p.m.
This year has been a successful one fort the market, seeing growth in both number of visitors and vendors. Ruf said they now average around 18 vendors per market.
The focus going forward is to keep growing, and continued sustainability. Ruf said this is through reaching new people.
“Reaching new demographics, the people who don’t have social media, or don’t take the newspaper who they don’t go out a lot and don’t realize what the market has to offer. Reaching those people, taking flyers out to the community, word of mouth, communicating with people at resource centers to get the word out there.”
Ruf said there have been more people taking advantage of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) this year than ever before as well.
Ruf said she is hopeful this Saturday will be a big turnout for the Animal Shelter
“Come out and support the animal shelter and local vendors, see what they have to offer,” Ruf said. “Even after the market season as we wrap it up, they can still access these same vendors throughout the winter seasons. If they’re a SNAP customer we can work that out with the vendors. They have options, they just have to contact the farmers market.”