The Farmers Market was packed with vendors and those looking for fresh produce Saturday, July 23, just one day after Downtown Development announced they’re taking the Farmers Market back over following a tense battle with the Farmers Market Association.
“The lease that we had previously offered to the Farmers Market Association, not the individual vendors, has been withdrawn, which means that we’ll just be dealing with individual vendors from here on out,” Downtown Development Board President Becky Raeke said.
That decision has left a rotten taste for some vendors.
“I haven’t been too happy hearing about Downtown Development encroaching on the Farmers Market Association,” Joey Diaz of The Salsa Guy said.
“If you were evicted from your apartment or house, you’d actually have to find another place to live,” Carol Castro of Carol Castro Ceramics said. “Same thing here, we are being evicted, so we got to find another place to live.”
For Joey Diaz, running his business has been fun, and seeing his regulars brings him joy, but that’s now overshadowed by future plans for the market.
“Downtown Development wants their cut of the pie, but they didn’t want anything to do with us before; why do they now?” Diaz said. “It’s because we’ve been making money. We made this into a profitable business.”
Carol Castro said the price increase will cut into her earnings.
“Under their management, prices are going to go up,” Castro said. “They’re going to go 20 dollars for farmers and 25 dollars for artists. I figured out my sales and what it cost me; over the course of one year, that’s going to cost me 660 dollars more under their management.”
Ruthie Turnbo is a regular vendor with Smarty Plants Healing Herb Farm. She said she thinks the Farmers Market Association has outgrown the facility and wants to serve other parts of the community.
“With the population of Wichita Falls being over 100,000, that’s okay because it supports our whole community,” Turnbo said.
Castro and Diaz said they will support the Farmers Market Association through and through.
“I am with the Wichita Falls Market Association, a vendor and member, and I am going to stay strong, and we are going to see this thing through – probably at another location for a while,” Castro said.
“I am going to stand behind the Farmers Market Association,” Diaz said. “They’ve been good to us, and they’re the reason why it’s grown. They really look toward us as vendors and understand what we need and the kind of support we need out here. They really look at us instead of just how much money they can make off of us.”