Pavilion plans for farmers market

ESCANABA – Draft plans for a large pavilion-style farmers market in downtown Escanaba will soon be drawn up and presented for public input, according to the director of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

DDA Director Ed Legault informed board members during their regular meeting Wednesday that he met with architect Barry Polzin of Marquette to discuss the possibility of designing a useful multi-purpose pavilion.

The structure would replace the current vendor stands on the corner of North 9th Street and 1st Avenue North.

A pavilion would improve the present facility and provide for more vendor space for the farmers market while also offer an outdoor building for other local activities, Legault explained after the meeting.

“We want to make it more than a farmers market and look at a community marketplace,” he said. “This would enhance Escanaba’s reputation and bring a sense of community in the downtown area.”

Development of the DDA’s farmers market has been an on-going priority for the authority which has also looked into building a new indoor/outdoor facility at its present location. The DDA has also considered renovating a vacant building downtown into a year-round structure.

Legault said the idea for a year-round building became cost-prohibitive so a design for a pavilion-style structure will be drafted and presented to the board and the public for input, possibly by next month. Grants could be sought to help fund the project, if approved, he said.

In addition to more vendor space, the pavilion would include restrooms, storage space, and possibly a kitchen area that could be closed off, explained Legault. The structure would also offer more protection from the weather while also serving as an outdoor facility, he said.

The farmers market would continue to be held during the winter months at the city’s Catherine Bonifas Civic Center at 225 N. 21st St., making use of that facility, said Legault.

For the first time, vendors have been setting up shop at the civic center this winter. Sales take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

Recreation Director Tom Penegor said the farmers market has been working out good at the civic center especially on the Saturdays when there are basketball games there.

The partnership with the DDA has been a positive one for the community and also makes good use of a room at the center which also provides parking and restroom facilities, he added.

In other business Wednesday, the board welcomed Jeff Slagstad of Wells Fargo as a new member.

The authority agreed to donate $5,000 to a Home Run 5K run/walk sponsored by the Delta County Coalition Against Homelessness on Memorial Day weekend in downtown Escanaba. The funds will allow the event to offer cash prizes for five years.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,