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Merchants planning open air market here
By: ANDY FASNACHT Review Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
A common theoretical discussion point in downtown Ephrata appears to be a reality.
The Ephrata Merchants Association announced Monday plans for a new open air market downtown called "Ephrata Whistle Stop Market — Celebrating Local Taste, Community and Neighbors."
The Merchants are currently seeking a variety of vendors and locally-grown musicians and entertainment for the upcoming market to debut on Saturday, May 18 from 10a.m.- 2 p.m. at the hub of Ephrata’s Whistle Stop Plaza.
Speaking on behalf of the Merchants, Stephanie Harley was asked what sparked the return of a market to Ephrata, with this one, as open air, possibly the first of its kind in downtown. She first mentioned the new plaza which they believe has great potential.
"They put money into it (the plaza)…it’s time to rally downtown," Harley said. "With the slogan ‘Celebrating Local Taste, Community and Neighbors,’ we want people to be able to walk down the street and see people you know, and for this to be a hub."
While Ephrata Borough has been receptive to the plan, final approval would have to wait until the next voting session in May. Plans for the market had been submitted for April approval but a revision caused the request to move back to the Development Activities Committee, and they will review the request this coming Monday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at borough hall.
Borough Manager Bob Thompson said the revised request asked for the front of the (plaza) parking lot be closed during the event.
"It’s on the committee agenda for this Monday," he said, indicating that the revised request could then be acted on May 13 after the committee review.
Harley said they’ve received positive feedback and have moved forward with accepting vendor applications.
"There are a few vendors already committed," she said Tuesday. "(We) are hoping for a least 15."
At this point the market is planned for Saturdays, May 18, June 15, July 20, Aug. 17. Sept. 21, and Oct. 19.
Applications will be reviewed by a Vendor Selection Committee to ensure that products meet the locally-grown criteria. Participating vendors will be charged a one-time fee of $120 for one 10×10 space.
Anticipating potential weather issues on given Saturdays as well as consideration of extending the market into cold weather months, Harley said they have approached the Ephrata Farmers Day Association about possible use of the former downtown market building on South State Street. Harley said the group has been receptive to the possibility in preliminary talks but no details or terms have yet to be hammered out.
As for what is planned for the plaza starting in May, vendors are needed in the following areas:
?Agricultural Harvest: from farmers who raise, cultivate and harvest their produce, herbs, flowers and nursery crops to beekeepers, eggs and dairy producers. This is an excellent opportunity for growers to sell their locally grown fruits and vegetables.
?Artist and Crafters: from people who craft with their own hands the products they offer for sale at the market. Making things by hand seems to be an art left in the past, but there are many who understand the value of a quality hand-made item and they will be on hand to see what you have to offer.
?Prepared/Processed Food: from those who offer fresh food products they have processed themselves into products for sale. These are ready-to-eat or pre-packaged items. People love to eat! People need to eat! You have food for people. People will buy your food.
?Locally-Grown Musicians: musicians looking to promote your event performance services, an upcoming show or just looking to get in front of a crowd are welcome to participate.
Interested vendors can download forms and additional information on the merchant’s website at ephratamerchants.com or contact Stephanie Harley at 875-1945. More MARKET, page A12