City farmers market getting more space
Customers will have more room to maneuver when Fredericksburg’s farmers market opens for the season on April 26.
The city will close Prince Edward Street in front of Hurkamp Park on Saturday mornings this year to give shoppers more space.
Wendy Stone, division manager for finance and leisure services in the city’s parks and recreation department, said people have repeatedly asked to have that downtown block closed.
“We’ve been working toward this for several years with the First Saturdays and kind of testing the waters,” said Gayle Price, one of Fredericksburg’s two market managers.
“Ultimately, safety more than anything kind of trumps everything else, because it’s just a bit hazardous down there. Plus, it’s just become kind of unshoppable with so much traffic.”
The change should make it easier for individual shoppers as well as families with strollers.
Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw commented during a recent City Council meeting that the decision is good news for her family.
“It will be very helpful to me, personally, as I have a family member using a walker or wheelchair,” said Greenlaw, who says she’s a market regular.
Council member Kerry Devine, another regular, was curious how many vendors would be allowed and learned the maximum is 26.
Bob Antozzi, the city’s director of parks, recreation and public facilities, presented council with an update on the markets at last week’s meeting.
Vendors may sell at the market year-round, but operations are managed during the growing season from the third Saturday in April through the last Saturday in October. It operates from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
In addition to announcing changes for the downtown market, Antozzi said the market launched in the Mayfield community last August will operate from May through October this year.
That market will be open on Thursdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The exact opening date had not been decided.
At the downtown market, Antozzi told the council that the city’s public safety and public works officials support closing the 900 block of Prince Edward Street on Saturday mornings.
The configuration will put vendors beside the sidewalk and their trucks behind them, lined up bumper to bumper.
That will leave one lane open for emergency vehicles to pass, he said.
Antozzi said the new configuration will make it safer for shoppers and vendors.
Vendors along George Street will continue operating as they have in the past.
Price said Prince Edward Street won’t close on three Saturdays—June 7, Sept. 20 and Oct. 4—because of special events.
She estimated that last year, on the Saturdays the market ran tests of the road closure, there were 1,200 to 1,500 customers compared to about 1,000 on a typical Saturday.
She said she hopes those higher numbers continue when the road is closed on a regular basis.
Emily Freehling is a freelance writer who lives in Fredericksburg.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972