Mississippi Hills Produce

Mary Weeks, left, and Adam Weeks operate the Mississippi Hills Produce stand at the Riverwalk Market Fair at Bridge Square in Northfield this summer. Market Fair organizers credit good weather with helping make this year a quality season. (News file photo)

This year’s Riverwalk Market Fair will generate slightly more revenue than last year partially due to the weather, according to organizers.

“It was a smooth market, it was a full market and we did not have a lot of weather events,” said Riverwalk Market Fair Board of Directors Chair Michael Sparby. “Last year we had a lot of weather events.”

Last December, the Northfield Economic Development Authority agreed to establish a contract with the fair, providing $7,000 in funding in both 2019 and 2020; the contract also made room for $3,000 in matching additional funding, which will only be awarded if the market fair grows its revenue by at least $3,000 from 2018 to 2019.

Reported vendor sales this year near $138,000 with several remaining events. Sparby said he expects final sales to be at least $3,000 more than last year’s $140,707. There were $144,135 in vendor sales in 2017.

Average event attendance for this year is estimated at 727. Detailed statistics compared to prior years are not available.

“Anecdotally, I would say we were busier than last year,” Sparby said.

The idea for the weekly events began in 2010 as a partnership by local artists, entrepreneurs and others. A $15,000 grant was received in 2011, and the Northfield EDA has supported the fair since 2012.

Sparby presented a broad overview of the market fair Thursday to the EDA as well as event highlights. Some of the activities available at this year’s Market Fair included a youth booth, crafts, face painting and community art, a juggler and magic performer from Carleton College, the presence of the Cannon Valley Makers and other activities. He said eight new/emerging artists were featured. Musicians were booked for all 20 dates.

There have been several new attractions at the market fair this year, including musicians from St. Olaf College, the Wandering House Project and a 2Fik performing artist.

Market Fair organizers plan to develop a marketing plan this winter to include digital and print advertising as well as content creation and distribution in partnership with the Northfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Northfield Mayor and EDA board member Rhonda Pownell and City Councilor and fellow board member Jessica Peterson spoke highly of the Market Fair and how busy each event has been.

In response to a question from an EDA member on whether the Market Fair could expand over the downtown bridge, Sparby said although the idea has been discussed, the lack of handicap accessibility is concerning.

This was the first year the Market Fair was led by April Kopack.

“It was a good change,” said Market Fair Board member Teresa Jensen. “Just some different ideas, more reaching out into the community and to the business community.”

“April has been very progressive on the community engagement, which is exactly what we asked her to do with that,” Sparby said.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Load comments