Fayetteville Farmers’ Market requests changes to city’s market ordinance

Fayetteville Farmers’ Market general manager Lori Boatright (right) and Ward 4 Alderwoman Rhonda Adams discuss proposed changes to the market ordinance during a City Council tour of the market grounds Monday evening on the downtown square.

Todd Gill, Flyer staff

City Council members on Tuesday will discuss possible changes to the city’s downtown farmers’ market ordinance.

Officials with the Rural Mountain Producers Exchange board, which operates the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, have requested the following amendments:

  • To close Mountain Street to traffic during the Saturday market.
  • To allow market vendors to use the parking spaces on the south side of Mountain Street.
  • To allow amplified sound during the market if a special permit is approved by the city.
  • To allow market officials to set their own rates and fees for vendors.

If approved, market patrons and vendors likely won’t notice much of a change considering the requested amendments would only put into law things that have already been going on.

For example, Mountain Street is sometimes closed on Saturdays during the market and the south parking spaces are typically occupied by vendors or nonprofit organizations.

2013 Farmers’ Market

Downtown market: April 6 through Nov. 23 on the downtown square from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday

Garden market: April through November at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday

More info: fayettevillefarmersmarket.org

Lori Boatright, the market’s general manager, said city administrators OK’d the closure of Mountain Street several years ago as an experiment, but the ordinance was never amended to reflect that change. East Avenue is also closed on Saturday, but Center and Block streets remain open to traffic.

Amplified sound is also sometimes used, such as for background music when belly dancers or other entertainers are performing.

As for the fee structure, the 40-year-old ordinance that created the market requires the board to charge a $5 annual fee and a 10 percent commission on sales for each vendor. While the market board does adhere to the annual $5 fee rate, it only charges vendors a 5 percent commission on weekdays and 7.5 percent on Saturdays.

Boatright said cleaning up the language in the ordinance is something the market board thinks is important.

“I know there’s been an unofficial ‘ask for forgiveness later’ policy in the past, but we don’t want to operate that way,” she told council members during a tour of the downtown square on Monday.

Boatright said none of the changes would affect the board’s rules which allow nonprofit organizations and political groups to set up booths at the market once per year free of charge. Those groups, she said, will be set up along Town Center plaza on the south side of the square, an area that is controlled by the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

While the commission doesn’t have any formal agreement with the market, Boatright said she has approval for use of the plaza, and doesn’t foresee any issues with placing the usual five or six nonprofit groups in that area.

“We have a great relationship with the A&P Commission,” said Boatright on Monday. “We stay in constant contact and we’re always exchanging our calendars of events to make sure there’s no overlap.”

Aldermen will consider approval of the amendments Tuesday night during the 6 p.m. City Council meeting.

The 2013 Fayetteville Farmers’ Market opens Saturday, April 6 at 7 a.m. on the downtown square. An opening ceremony is planned for 9 a.m.