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Hot summer brings lukewarm results to farmers markets

But at least one has nonetheless thrived in new location

Aug. 6, 2012

The weather hasn't uniformly wilted area farmers markets this season, but some are feeling the heat.

Greendale's Open Market has been thriving this summer notwithstanding the heat, and Oak Creek's Summer Market has no complaints. Whereas Hales Corners' Harvest at the Homestead and Franklin's St. Martins Fair have seen a distinct fall in the numbers of visiting patrons.

Despite the weather and the related lack of certain produce, the community markets still hope to make a comeback before their respective seasons end.

Not so hot

Though their numbers have thinned compared to the typical year, attendees are still making their way to market.

Robert Stockinger, market manager in Hales Corners, said the heat has been a major factor in the decreasing number of visiting patrons.

"We are down in patrons by about 20 percent," Stockinger said. "The market is still doing alright, though. We still have vendors coming out every time."

Hales Corners has about 12 vendors at each market, selling coffee, bakery, produce, honey, and other goods.

Stockinger said the rummage sales the Stahl-Conrad Homestead, 9724 W. Forest Home Ave., has been sponsoring have helped boost their numbers. Hales Corners will host another rummage sale at their August 11 market.

"We also have added someone who has frozen meats to our vendors," Stockinger said. "So even if it seems like produce is down, there is a variety of products available. It's still worth coming."

Franklin's St. Martins Fair, 9229 West Loomis Road, saw a tough start when rain, ironically, tainted its opening day April 7.

John Nelson, the chairman of fair commission, said it has been much more difficult for vendors to get what they needed this year.

"The people who used to come and get great deals can't find some of their products this year," Nelson said. "And that's because we're at the mercy of the weather."

Though some vendors have had an unsteady presence, Nelson said the fair can't gauge success until they see what happens this month.

"(Aug. 6) will be the first fair where people start to bring in sweet corn and other produce," Nelson said. "It should be 80 degrees and sunny, so we're hoping that will bring people back in."

Beating the heat

Rich Duchniak, community center executive director, said he hasn't heard any of the Oak Creek Summer Market vendors being affected by the heat.

The Wednesday Summer Market at the center, 8580 South Howell Ave., typically has around 10 vendors.

This year, the market is running in conjunction with Oak Creek's concert series this year. The Reggae "rock and soul" group In Black N White was set to perform Aug. 8 and Milwaukee cover band Mt. Olive will perform Aug. 22. The groups will be playing from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

"We're hoping for a nice crowd at these final markets," Duchniak said. "We've had between 400 and 700 people at the previous three."

Food and beverages are available at the center during the concerts. Attendees are encouraged to bring along your own blanket or lawn chair.

Greendale's Open Market hasn't seen any major fluctuations this year - in fact, it has seen an increase in patron attendance.

Jackie Schweitzer, director at the Greendale Park and Recreation Department, said the market's move from the Municipal Parking Lot to Broad Street has boosted vendor sales and improved visibility for the participating tenants.

"Our market is well supported by the community," Schweitzer said. "We've also had wonderful weather on our Saturday markets, and it helps that they are early in the morning, so it isn't too hot."

The Open Market has seen about 30 vendors at each of its markets, including sellers of crafts, produce, flowers and jewelry. Schweitzer said the vendors have come close to selling out, despite not having an abundance of certain produce.

"We have a nice, balanced market with a lot of different options," Schweitzer said. "I encourage anyone to stop by. These markets help bring people together."

St. Martins Fair

Remaining days: Aug. 6, Sept 2 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 3 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Time: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Location:St. Martins Road (County Highway MM) and Church Street

Greendale Open Market

Remaining days: Aug. 4, Aug. 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 8, Sept. 22, Oct. 6, Oct. 20

Time: 8 a.m. to noon

Location:Village Center between Northway and Schoolway

Hales Corners Harvest at the Homestead

Remaining days: Aug. 11, Sept. 1, Sept. 15, Sept. 29, Oct. 13, Oct. 22

Time: 8 a.m. to noon

Location:9724 W. Forest Home Ave.

Oak Creek Summer Market

Remaining days: Aug. 8, Aug. 22

Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location:8580 S. Howell Ave.

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