Metrics of the Markets

Oct 18, 2021

Our 2021 Farmers Market season was a huge success by its most important measure: you.

Average attendance was down a bit from previous years, and our vendor counts and entertainment offerings were wisely and intentionally scaled back because of ongoing public health precautions. Still, compared with last year when Market After Dark was canceled completely and the Downtown Farmers Markets could exist only in a limited, drive-through format, this was a much-anticipated return-to-normal (ish) year. On a variety of economic impact metrics, the Markets did what they are supposed to do in terms of generating commerce, attracting people and adding to downtown vibrancy.

What kept our hard-working Team going through unexpected challenges of our 16th season of Downtown Farmers Markets and our 6th Market After Dark was the support, encouragement and compliments we received from all of you. Testimonials about the value of the Markets poured in more than ever this year as people realized how much they value the things they missed when they were gone.

We heard:

  • from downtown restauranteurs that revenue for several establishments during Market After Dark matched St. Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve as their best nights of the year.
  • from farmers, artisans and small business owners who make up the vast majority of Market vendors that many would have been out of business without the strong sales they experienced at our markets.
  • from property owners and business owners that events like this bring people who otherwise haven’t visited downtown lately and who wind up being impressed by the beauty of newly lighted building facades, the recent proliferation of public art, the streetscape and infrastructure improvements, and the influx of several new businesses.
  • from first-time visitors to Cedar Rapids that our Markets rival those in any other Midwestern city, including comments from a Chicago area vendor that he took pictures and notes that he’s going to take back to his own market so they can make changes to be just like Cedar Rapids. Really!
  • from Market patrons who came back by the thousands this year to support small businesses and to let us know this remains one of your favorite events.
  • from sponsors, who generously and enthusiastically supported these events and literally made them possible to hold. While other smaller sponsors were essential but are too numerous to list, I want to especially express sincere appreciation to Alliant Energy and Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust for their presenting sponsorships and to the significant support we received from Quakers Oats, 965 Flats, the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn Wins, Nordstrom, T-Mobile and UFG Insurance.

The easiest path these last two years – and the route some of our peer organizations in other communities have taken – would have been to cancel many of the things we do. But it’s clear to me – in large part because of what we hear from you – that we need to do everything in our power to continue to provide the highest quality events, programs and services. And so that’s what you’ll continue to see from this Team.


Doug Neumann, Executive Director

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