First Farmers Market draws crowd

News editor

BELOIT — Though there was a slight chill in the air Saturday morning, spring was in bloom in downtown Beloit for the first Farmers Market of the season.

Visitors milling about State Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Beloit could peruse vendors’ wares, which included asparagus, spinach, rhubarb, plants, hanging baskets, cheese, eggs, honey, kettle corn, baked goods and more.

“It’s a great turnout for the first one,” said Downtown Beloit Association Executive Director Shauna El-Amin. “The weather is great and it’s sunny.”

A total of 64 vendors had booths. As the weather gets warmer and the crops start rolling in, there will be about 90 vendors at the market.

Kathy and Hank Baumann, of the Town of Beloit, have been vendors at the Downtown Beloit Farmers Market for about 25 years.

“I was one of the vendors on this street back when they couldn’t fill it,” Hank Baumann recalled.
“We have a lot of regular customers. It’s nice to see them all again and catch up on things,” Kathy Baumann said.

The couple were selling asparagus, onions and rhubarb, along with some plants.

“I already sold out of my rhubarb,” Kathy said.

Later in the season they will have strawberries, blueberries, beans and more.
Saturday marked another special occasion for the couple.

“It’s our 39th anniversary,” Kathy said.

Regular customer Sally McFerren wished the couple a happy anniversary and purchased a bag of asparagus.

McFerren, owner of Attic Quilts in downtown Beloit, tries to make her rounds at the Farmers Market every Saturday before she goes to work at her store.

“Every Saturday I come down early so I can get a parking place and get some shopping done at the market,” she said.

Joe Parr of Monroe was selling jelly, maple syrup and canned vegetables.

“Generally, I would have produce,” he said with a laugh, noting it is a little early in the growing season for his normal crops.

However, as the season progresses he will have lots of items from his farm to offer. He said he will bring apples, peaches, plums and more.

Parr said last year was his first year at the Beloit Farmers Market. He said Beloit has more foot traffic than some of the other farm markets and he is happy to be back for a second year.

The Farmers Market is open each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on State Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Beloit. The market will be set up each Saturday through October.