May 26, 2023

🎥 Downtown Hays Market opens its 10th year Saturday morning

Posted May 26, 2023 11:01 AM
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Hays Post

The Downtown Hays Market opens for the season Saturday.

This is the farmers market's 10th year of operation and will feature a birthday bash theme with giveaways every Saturday through October 21. Free birthday cupcakes will be handed out this week.

Vendor interest for opening day has been overwhelming, according to Julie Rider, Downtown Hays Development Corp. executive director.

There are 22 reserved vendor spots under the downtown pavilion in Union Pacific Railroad Park, 10th and Main. A few spots are also reserved for food trailers on 10th Street just outside the pavilion. 

"More than 40 vendors are registered for our first farmers market," Rider said. "It's going to be a packed house. I'm really excited."

The overflow will be located in the blocked-off 10th Street parking lot west of the pavilion.

Vendors will be selling everything from home-grown fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers, to homemade pet treats, farm-fresh eggs, and ranch-raised meats.

Handmade artwork and crafts are also available for purchase.

The homemade bakery items go fast, Rider cautioned. "If you don't get there early, you may be disappointed."

A new bakery has signed up to sell its goods for the first time this year, she added. 

Complimentary coffee is provided by Breathe Coffee House, the Hays Convention and Visitor's Bureau, and Downtown Hays Development Corp. 

Some vendors are registered and eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Double Up Food Bucks, and Kansas Senior Farmers Market. 

Buyers who participate in those assistance programs can purchase a variety of locally sourced fresh foods.

The Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is increasing the value of coupons for low-income seniors from $35 to $50. The coupons are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Seniors can apply at the Cottonwood Extension District office, 601 Main, between Thursday, June 1 and Friday, September 15, or until benefits are gone.  

Rider, who took over the DHDC position in February and has been a longtime board member, says the farmers market has a casual, family atmosphere.

"People are strolling along, visiting with each other. You see them with their kids and their dogs."

The market has special guests each week, including kids' entertainment, non-profit groups, and adoptable animals from the Western Plains Animal Refuge. Ellis County Master Gardeners will be on hand once a month. 

"Ask a Philosopher," hosted by the Fort Hays State University philosophy department, will return again this year. Department philosophers will be available to chat about philosophy, discuss thought experiments, and answer any philosophical questions.

Also returning this year is the popular Jensen Farms booth with locally-produced honey and mushrooms. Mike and Amy Jensen, Hays, have participated in the market since its inception in 2013.

Many vendors are from the area. Others come from as far away as Garden City.

Vendors can join the market any time. Cost is $25 for the entire season.

New enhancements planned for the pavilion include a permanent sound system, a project spearheaded by the Heartland Community Foundation Youth Action Council with students from Ellis, Trego and Rooks counties.

Rider also would like to see a watering station and a waste station for dogs added.

Benjamin Dome, a student at Victoria High School, will be in his second year as market manager. The position is paid through the Nex-Gen internship program with Nex-Tech.  

"He ran the fall market last year. Does a great job, " Rider said. Dome also manages the SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks programs.

Operating hours of the downtown market are from 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Updated vendor information and how to participate is available on the market's website. You can also follow the weekly happens of the market on Facebook.