The well-known Coventry Regional Farmers' Market is heading into its final summer season, beginning on May 31 and running every Sunday until October. While local businesses and vendors are sad to see the market go, they are grateful for the executive board’s dedication and ambition over the past 12 years.
“The majority of our group now is in their 70s, and this winter has taken a really hard toll on them,” said the market’s executive director, Winter Caplanson, on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show. “Physically, they’re not in good shape, and we waited for most everybody to get out of the hospital so we could meet about the future of the market.”
The decision to make this their last season was unanimous. Caplanson reported that a slow day at the market brings in 75 vendors, while a busy day doubles the number of vendors, and attendance can reach 6,000 people. She indicated that the reality is that the Nathan Hale Homestead was not built to accommodate such a massive crowd.
“It takes a crew of people just to get everybody off the roads, parked, and to get that place set up to host what is essentially a country fair every Sunday through the summer months,” Caplanson said.
McEnroe said the farmers' market has become much larger than the board initially imagined.
Caplanson agreed that their group was naturally ambitious, and just wanted to continuously improve. “The more wonderful things we added to the market, the more people came,” she said.
Listen below to remarks from Caplanson during the show:
— Lauren Kodiak (@laurenkodiak) July 13, 2014
Coventry town manager John Elsesser said during the show that the market has been a blessing for the region -- so much so that they are investigating where to go next. “We certainly would like to spend some time to come up with a worthwhile market going forward, understanding it won’t be the same because there’s magic, and it’s hard to recreate magic,” he said.
Coventry still holds the main lease, which gives them the right to continue to host a market for the duration of the lease under different management. The town government will discuss the future for the market Thursday night with the Economic Development Commission.
“This is a story of farmers,” said McEnroe. “We can’t just have farms; we have to have farmers' markets, or something like them.”
Caplanson admitted that the closing of such an influential, large market will be a transition, but there are still 120 other farmers' markets in the state, and there is potential for a new market to open in Coventry in the future.
Sydney Lauro is an intern at WNPR.