The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market has become a staple in the city’s summertime experience. On Saturday mornings during the season, thousands of people gather and roam the downtown streets shopping from hundreds of vendors. It is a refreshing sight to see the community commune in such larger numbers to spend their time and dollars locally. While it is widely known that the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance produces the event annually with support from other local businesses, what isn’t widely known are some of the work and individuals behind the scenes, the unsung heroes, who ensure a smooth and successful experience for everyone involved in the markets.
When visiting a farmers market, what comes to mind for most patrons is the surface experiences, such as the entertainment, vendors, food and maybe a familiar face or two. Important logistics which aren’t at the forefront of their minds may be where they’ll find parking, where’s the closest bathroom, or in the rare case they might need medical assistance, what is the emergency plan.
“There are many aspects of putting on a successful market that often goes unrecognized.” Said Coady Sierra, Events Coordinator at the Economic Alliance. “Without the services of our stagers and volunteers, along with other contracted organizations including, Park Cedar Rapids, LRS Portables, ABC Disposals, Select Signage, among others, I couldn’t imagine what the market experience would look like for the community”.
Planning for each farmers market season begins immediately after the close of the last market each year. This goes not only for the event producers at the Economic Alliance, but also the teams at the various organizations involved behind the scenes. Park Cedar Rapids, for example, is an integral part of the market because their terrain involves the streets which make up the market venue. In addition to that, parking is the first and last piece for each patron to the market, which makes it vital in securing a positive experience for everyone.
“The customer service experience makes parking a significant part of the farmers market.” Said Ryan Baack, General Manager at Park Cedar Rapids. “Entering or leaving the market with a bad taste due to an unpleasant parking experience may influence patrons to not come back, so it’s important to Park Cedar Rapids to provide that positive customer service experience to downtown in general, but especially on market days.”
Unsung heroes make up the backbone of many successful events. Without them, the event cannot run successfully. For the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, presented by Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, it is these heroes who have kept the event running for the past 10 years. The market season has seen success as a staple in the community because of their flawless planning and execution, along with their tireless work – which sometimes begins at 3 a.m.
To experience the behind-the-scenes work come to life first hand, make it part of your final summer plans and visit one of the 3 remaining Farmers Market this season on August 5, 19, and a special Fall Market on September 16. Or even consider being a part of the team of heroes that bring it to life by volunteering a few hours of your morning before enjoying the market yourself. More information on the markets and how to get involved can be found here.