VENICE, FL (WWSB) – For nearly 20 years the Venice Farmers Market has been at home on Tampa Avenue. But it’ll be moving when the downtown reconstruction project begins on July 9th.
“I think with the scope of the project downtown it only makes sense to be in an interim location while that’s happening,” said Market Manager Lee Perron.
The interim location is just a few blocks west, at City Hall. Perron is excited about the move… but with a stipulation. “I don’t think this is a good long-term location simply because we have a smaller market with smaller crowds during the summer.”
Tampa, Venice and Miami Avenues will be torn up and redone over the next several months. That’s forcing several downtown events to move.
“It’s going pretty well even though as humans we don’t take change real well, everyone is understanding the magnitude and purpose of the project,” said Assistant City Manager Len Bramble.
That being said – when the project is over the city is keen on moving the Farmer’s Market permanently. “If we can make it more enticing in a better location for the Farmer’s Market we’d like to explore those opportunities. And two: we know in the long run the Farmers Market needs to get off west Tampa which is one of our major east/west thoroughfares,” Bramble said.
Perron isn’t against the permanent move. He just doesn’t want the market to stay by City Hall. He wants to go onto Nassau Street. “It’s a perfect fit for us. We’re still downtown, we’re still visible, we have the infrastructure with the parking at Centennial Park and the restrooms located close by.”
Plus Perron points out the market has grown exponentially over the last year.
“We went from 2,300 a week during the February/March timeframe to 5,000 per week. So you’re going to need a location that is going to handle that many vendors and that kind of attendance volume,” Perron said.
The downtown reconstruction project will end sometime around late December or early January.
Date of move to new venue near City Hall depends on street reconstruction
By Earle Kimel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
VENICE — Like so much in downtown Venice this summer, plans to move the Venice Farmers Market from its current home on Tampa Avenue to Avenue des Parques near City Hall hinge on when the downtown street reconstruction project begins.
“We’re in the process of identifying which Saturday, which week would be the best for us to make the move,” said Lee Perron, who managesthe market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks.
Perron met recently with Assistant City Manager Len Bramble to finalize the site plan for the market along Avenue des Parques. Part of that plan includes the city’s installing conduit and providing additional electrical outlets on the edges of the parking lot at Venice City Hall for vendor to use
|A recent cover photo from the Venice Farmers Market Facebook page. Lee Perron, who manages the market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, anticipates moving the market from the 200 block of Tampa Avenue to Avenue des Parques near City Hall in the latter half of June.|
Meanwhile the Venice City Council finally defined the scope of work on the $8.3 million reconstruction of Venice, Tampa and Miami avenues at its May 22 meeting.
A timetable should be set at a preconstruction meeting Tuesday, though City Engineer Kathleen Weeden said actual street closings may not happen until the week of July 9.
Depending on how things go, Perron anticipates moving the market from the 200 block of Tampa Avenue in the latter half of June. Off-season hours started in May, so the market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon through December.
“I think everything is falling into place very very nicely,” Perron said. “We’re exactly where we need to be right now.”
Perron and the Friends of Sarasota County Parks took over operation of the market last July, following the retirement of longtime market manager Linda Wilson.
The past year the market grew to feature as many as 50 vendors, offering a variety of food and wares — including baked goods, international foods and a cheese monger.
Perron said that customer volume at the market grew about 30 percent this past season.
In 2016, the market’s high volume was about 3,200 people per week. In March, the average was 5,000 people per week.
After season, the number of vendors traditionally decreases, but this year 45 vendors plan to stay on through the summer.
“All but five of our vendors said they had such a great winter in season that they wanted to stay,” Perron said. “That really makes it a much more vibrant market.”
The hope is that fewer Venice residents will trek up to downtown Sarasota for their fresh produce needs, because the local market will offer plenty of variety.
“They’re going to have all the choices that they want right there in the city,” Perron said.