The Turlock Certified Farmers Market is seeking a return to its downtown roots this season.
TCFM Board President Brandon Follett submitted a Special Event Permit application with the City of Turlock requesting the closure of the east end of Main Street in the downtown corridor to hold a Saturday morning market from May 4 through Sept. 28.
If the Council approves the request, it would be a 10th anniversary homecoming for the market which has been located at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds for the past three years.
“Last season we went back downtown for two weeks during fair time. It was very successful and we’ve had a lot of people asking over the years to come back downtown. We’ve done some research, additional surveying, talked to downtown business owners and everybody seemed to be on board so we thought this was a good opportunity,” said Follett.
TCFM made the move to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds for its 2016 season, following a contentious debate surrounding who would run the downtown market when both TCFM and Golden State Farmers Markets Association applied for competing street closure requests. Up until that point, TCFM had operated a market in downtown Turlock for six years. Ultimately, TCFM chose to withdraw its request and seek a different location, landing the market at the fairgrounds for the past three years.
The Golden State Farmers Market Association operated a weekly the market on Main Street for one year, then moved it to Central Park in response to business owners who complained about lost sales due to the street closures. The following year, the market changed its hours from Saturday mornings to Thursday evenings and was rebranded the Central Park Evening Market. It’s unclear if that market will open for the 2019 season.
When the Golden State Farmers Market moved to Central Park, the City Council enacted a policy that discourages the closure of Main Street for any event. In acknowledgment of that policy, the TCFM surveyed 30 business that could potentially be affected by the seasonal, weekly street closures. According to Follett, all of the businesses contacted were in support of the farmers market coming back downtown.
“I don’t anticipate there being any real objection. With our track record, attendance, ability to work with TDPOA (Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association) and business owners, we can create an event everyone will be happy with,” he said.
Follett said while the fairgrounds has been a great location for the market, there advantages to being downtown.
“It’s a destination; you have to go there specifically,” he said about the fairgrounds site, located off Soderquist Road. “There’s more foot traffic with downtown visitors and the market brings people downtown also.”
There would be costs associated with the market returning to Main Street and closing the streets. To mitigate costs for the City and the nonprofit market, TCFM has agreed to provide labor and equipment to implement the City-approved temporary traffic control plan.
The Turlock City Council was scheduled to consider the application at its Tuesday meeting, but the item was postponed due to lack of proper notification of businesses and residences in the area that would be affected by the weekly street closure. The item is now expected to come before the City Council at their March 26 meeting. The meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Turlock City Hall is located at 156 S. Broadway.