PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh Farmers' and Crafters' Market season is winding down.
Vendors will sell fresh produce, goods and crafts this weekend and next before the annual market goes into hibernation.
"The first day blew us out of the water. I think we shocked everybody," Market Manager and Vice President Julie Baughn said of its May opening day, noting some 2,000 to 3,000 patrons strolling through that Saturday alone.
"But any given week, I don't think we had under 200 or 300 people," she continued, reflecting on the market's 20-plus other weekends. "That might not sound like a lot, but for the size of our market, it was extremely good."
DOWN BY THE BAY
The market provides area farmers and crafters a venue to sell locally-made and crafted goods throughout the fair-weather season, and has for decades.
It changed location this year, operating out of a refurbished Municipal Lighting Department building off of Green Street at the City of Plattsburgh's harborside area, nearby the city marina and Plattsburgh Amtrak Station.
"I think it was a lot more welcoming there," Baughn said, comparing the new location to the market's former site within the Durkee Street parking lot. "You weren't standing in the middle of a parking lot. You had a lot of green space all around you.
"At times there were people down there playing frisbee with their dog. People were having little picnics on the grass area."
The market manager noticed a lot of foot traffic from all directions, including nearby footbridge "Commemoration Bridge," Dock Street and Green Street.
Green Street, a tight road for two-lane traffic, transitioned to a one-way thoroughfare on market Saturdays early into the season.
"It was extremely helpful," Baughn said. "It enabled a lot more foot traffic to come down that street without worrying about getting hit."
SMELL 'NOTHING SERIOUS'
Critics of the market's move had slammed its now close proximity to the city's Water Resource Recovery Facility, asserting the new location was not fit for selling food items and would surely have a stench.
"I'm not going to lie and say there wasn't any smell," Baughn said. "On occasion, depending what area or what way the wind was coming from, you got a little smell, but it wasn't a sewage smell, it wasn't a waste smell. It was like a small, musty smell.
"Nothing serious. No one seemed to mind. I heard nothing derogatory from anyone."
City officials prior to the market's opening assured no septage would be delivered to the site during its hours of operation.
"I think that the first couple of weeks, once people saw that that was not going to be a factor, it really helped to alleviate some of the anxiety that people were feeling about that," Baughn said.
'BEST YEAR YET'
The Plattsburgh Farmers' and Crafters' Market was comprised of more than 51 vendors for its first harborside season, though only 32 were full time.
"Our full-time vendors basically are there every week, every week of the entire season," Baughn said. "Then you have other vendors who have other obligations, whatever those might be. They come when they can, whether that's once a month or twice a month, whatever they're able to do."
But it was enough vendors to fill the former MLD building and also line multiple stations under tents outside.
Vendors sold an assortment of goods like handmade jewelry and crafts, locally-grown produce, maple products and wine and spirits. New vendors this year sold spices, homemade dog treats, soap and other goods.
Baughn, who sells homemade granola bars, fruit bars and more from her business Mountain Peak Goodies and Granola, said her sales were up there this year.
"I heard from various vendors, a lot of people's sales were absolutely through the roof. A lot of people said, 'Oh my God. This is my best year yet.'"
As this season comes to a close, Baughn has some improvements in mind for next spring.
Top on her list is a more prominent food truck presence and a larger children's play area.
"What little bit I did was really used well," she said, noting a ring toss, hula hoops, chalk area and corn hole station for kids. "I really, really think that's a plus. The number of families that come down there is unbelievable. To just take a break for a second and let their kids play — that is a big thing."
It was a hope that the City of Plattsburgh, from which the market rents its building, would make some enhancements to the building ahead of next season, including ventilation for those hot summer days.
"With what we've invested in harborside and the success of the 2021 market, we feel it's entirely appropriate to relook at the opportunity to expand that facility and the attractiveness of harborside in general," Mayor Christopher Rosenquest told the Press-Republican, adding that the updates would be rolled into a capital project.
"Conservatively, we're hoping to invest anywhere between $150,000 to $200,000 in developing that entire area, including improvements to the building itself. Our focus is to enhance and increase investments into the city's assets," the mayor continued.
"Over the years, the farmers market is one of those community hubs that attracts more people and commerce to our community. Those are things we should invest in."
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