Season debut of Port’s Main Street attraction June 4 will help usher in another year of area outdoor sales
The Port Washington farmers market — likely the longest running in Ozaukee County — will open for the season on Saturday, June 4.
About 30 vendors, many of them returning from previous seasons, are expected to set up shop on Main Street between Wisconsin and Franklin streets from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
They will offer everything from eggs to honey, produce to breads, soaps to flowers and much more, said Ross Leinweber, who is managing the market for Port Main Street Inc.
The Port Soccer Club will again offer brats and burgers, he said, with meat from Bernie’s Fine Meats.
During its 21-week run — it is open every Saturday through the end of October except for July 16, Fish Day — the market will offer something for everyone.
For 13 weeks, beginning July 2, there will be music to entertain the crowds that gather on the street to shop and socialize.
That week, the market will also begin circulating cards that will promote healthy eating by providing information and recipes about some of the foods available at the market, Leinweber said. The cards are part of the county’s INVEST Obesity Action Team’s program to educate children about healthy eating.
The market has come a long way in its three-decades-long run.
Scott Schweizer of Anchor Men’s Wear said he suggested a market for Port after seeing the success of the West Bend farmers market.
That first year — he’s not sure exactly when it was — there were only a few vendors on Main Street, but it proved successful by bringing people to downtown for food and shopping, Schweizer said.
“It really creates a lot of traffic,” he said. “And as long as people are downtown, they shop at the downtown stores.”
Organizers slowly added amenities to the market, such as music and prepared food.
“It’s really worked out nice,” Schweizer said. “It’s really perfect. We’ve got a little of everything and not too much of anything.
“That was really the idea, to keep it small and intimate.”
That’s not to say the market’s appeal is limited to Port residents. Schweizer said people staying at the Holiday Inn Harborview also enjoy the market
“They think it’s really unique,” he said. “It’s small town at its best.”
As the market has grown, it has tapped into several food trends that have virtually ensured its success.
Today, people want to know where their food comes from, and the market is ideal for that, Leinweber said. There is an emphasis on fresh foods, not processed ones, and a shop local movement.
“The trends in society are making healthy eating, organic eating, very popular,” he said.
It’s not just Port Washington that has tapped into these movements. Today, shoppers can get fresh produce six days a week:
In Thiensville, there’s a market at Village Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays beginning June 14.
Fredonia will hold a farmers market from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays beginning June 15 in the parking lot at the Fredonia Government Center.
In Grafton, a market will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays beginning July 7 in the Grafton High School parking lot.
In Cedarburg, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays beginning June 3 in the Cedarburg Cultural Center parking lot.
Saukville’s market is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at Veterans Park beginning June 19.
But as delicious and tempting as the food items offered at the markets may be, there’s yet one more reason the farmers markets flourish.
“It’s a little like a community get-together,” Leinweber said. “It draws people. It’s a place where you can meet up with other people. And Port has such an inviting setting.”
Leinweber said he’s implementing several behind-the-scenes initiatives to help determine how things can be done better and what offerings might be needed in the future.
“The whole idea is to raise the bar a little bit,” he said. “We’ve definitely broadened the categories of products we have, and we continue to try and grow the market.”
Someday soon, he added, they hope to expand the market across Wisconsin Street.