For the first time since 2015, the Turlock Certified Farmers Market will be operating in downtown this weekend.
The Stanislaus County Fair rolls into town on Friday, meaning that for two straight Saturdays livestock and the Future Farmers of America will overtake the ag pavilion at the fairgrounds which TCFM has called home since 2016.
In years prior, TCFM has set up shop in the Village Fresh Market shopping center, but TCFM Market Manager Derek Griffin said that the smaller space didn’t allow for all of the market’s vendors to sell during fair week. Returning downtown will allow all of TCFM’s vendors to participate, Griffin said, and give back to community members who may miss having a market on Main Street.
“We just wanted to go back to our location downtown and get our farmers market back into the community,” Griffin said. “This is the first time we’ve been back on Main Street in our original location in almost three years.”
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, but ultimately, TCFM chose to withdraw its request and seek a different location, landing the market at the fairgrounds.
While Griffin doesn’t believe TCFM or the city has healed from the divisive farmers market decision that took place nearly three years ago, he thinks the market’s return to downtown could one day become permanent, signaling an end to the years-long controversy.
“I think we’re all a little tired, but I wouldn’t say it’s completely healed…not in any way, shape or form,” Griffin said. “This is an opportunity for us to showcase to the community what they haven’t seen for the last couple years, which is us back downtown. Getting back there permanently would take further planning on our part and the City’s part, and that’s something in the future that could probably be worked out, but we have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
While downtown business owners have been wary of street-closures in the past, TCFM made sure that their two weekends on Main Street wouldn’t impose on any storefronts. Founding TCFM Board member Jeani Ferrari received unanimous approval from potentially-impacted downtown businesses for the market’s operation during the fair, Griffin said.
He also added that he’s told TCFM vendors to bring “extra of everything,” as the market is expecting a large downtown crowd.
“I think a lot of people are going to come downtown that normally wouldn’t…it’s kind of a homecoming for us,” Griffin said. “The vendors that have remained with us from the beginning are very excited to go back downtown because we all have good memories of down there, and our new vendors don’t know quite what to expect, but they’re going to see a crowd they haven’t seen in quite some time.”
The Turlock Certified Farmers Market will move from its Stanislaus County Fairgrounds home to downtown Turlock for two special Saturdays during the fair, July 14 and July 21. The market will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Main Street between Center and Thor streets.