BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The summer’s first Downtown Summer Market went off with few hitches, a beautiful day, and a lot of people Thursday night.
Darla Farrell, owner of The Funky Cowgirl in downtown Fort Madison, said she started working on the project in March and organized it herself. She got the idea from a recent trip to Costa Rica where she visited street markets.
“I went to this market while I was there and it was so awesome. And so I thought, you know we can do this. We don’t need to have a market that has just a few certain things, we can just do a really cool variety and that’s how that market was. There was wine tasting, some beer, and music.” Farrell said.
So she hit the ground running when she got back to Fort Madison hunting down vendors and securing all the city permits and support for the project.
“I went out and found all these vendors. It’s hard to find them when you’re running a little short of time,” Farrell said. “These people plan their schedules way in advance and I wasn’t sure it was going to work. I went to every vendor page, website, and craft show in Iowa. Went and passed out vendor forms, worked it, and talked to people.”
Tents and vendors began lining both sides of Avenue G as early as 1 p.m. for the Market that went from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Some businesses from the downtown area including The Artisans, the Fort Madison Area Arts Association, and Swed Coffee Co. had spots in the market, while the smells of Amish baked goods, burgers, brats, and funnel cake filled the air.
Whiskey Friends 2 played music on the sidewalk starting at 5 and there were three food trucks on the premises serving American and Mexican fares.
“I’m loving it. I’m missing six vendors because things happen, but it’s really good and people are loving it. I’m really happy how it turned out. We weren’t able to have the beer down here this month,” she said.
“We have everything down here. There’s vintage, art, home decor, coffee, baked goods, other food, wine tasting. It’s just been a really good day. I think I could have had more vendors if I’d gone to direct sales, but I didn’t want that type of market.”
There will be two more markets – one each on the second Thursday in July and August. The next event will be on July 11th and the Aug. 15th Market will be the final one for the summer.
Farrell said the vendors will change from month to month as people get their weekend schedules in line.