Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce Farmers Market back in business

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Popped Cornfections owner JoAnn Kostenbader (right) shows Grove City resident Stephanie Hansel a bag of her gourmet popcorn May 15 at the opening day of the 2021 Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce Farmers Market. There will be no mask requirements or social-distancing restrictions for this year's market, which will be held from 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday through the summer in the parking lot between the Broadway Station Apartments and the Grove City Library off Broadway.

The Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce Farmers Market's 2021 season began May 15 with organizers and vendors looking forward to a more normal year as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

"It will be nice to be mostly worried about Mother Nature cooperating," chamber executive director Shawn Conrad said.

That wasn't a problem May 15.

"It was a beautiful day," Conrad said. "We had about 850 visitors to the market, which is about double what we would normally see.

"I think part of it was the weather, but people were also just excited about having some kind of return to normal."

About 20 vendors participated in the opening day market, and many were sold out before the morning was over, Conrad said.

The farmers market will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays throughout the summer. The market again is being held off Broadway in the large parking lot between the Broadway Station Apartments and the Grove City Library.

The change is a result of safety concerns if the market was held as in past years on the sidewalks along Broadway and Park Street, Conrad said.

The new arrangement resulted from discussions between the city and the chamber, she said.

"From one standpoint, it's better having the market in place in front of our merchants on Broadway, but moving it off Broadway is safer, and there's also greater access to utilities for the event," Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said.

The city will work with the chamber to create additional signage to promote and guide people to the market, Stage said.

"We want to encourage everyone who visits the farmers market to take the time to visit the merchants in the Town Center," Conrad said. "There are a lot of great stores just a short walk from the market area."

The 2020 market began as a drive-thru event, with customers preordering items and driving through on the market day to pick up their orders.

The market reopened to walk-through traffic in late June 2020, but with requirements that visitors and vendors wear masks and limits on the number of people allowed onto the site to ensure six feet of social distancing could be maintained.

"We're an outdoor event, so we aren't requiring masks this year and there are no social distancing mandates," Conrad said.

The preorder, drive-thru pick-up option still is available for some vendors, she said. Customers can check out the list of vendors offering preorder sales and make their purchases on the chamber website, gcchamber.org.

JoAnn Kostenbader is among the vendors who do not do preorders for the farmers market.

She sells handcrafted gourmet popcorn through her business, Popped Cornfections.

"My stuff is more like sight-see buying," Kostenbader said. "Someone walks by my booth and sees the popcorn on display and they get a hankering for fresh popcorn."

The Grove City resident makes her batches of gourmet popcorn using her own recipes and preparing the ingredients in her kitchen.

"The caramel and everything is fresh made," Kostenbader said. "We're not using the glaze that most people have gotten used to in their store-bought popcorn.

"A lot of the popcorn people buy doesn't really taste like popcorn anymore. We're trying to give them the real thing."

Kostenbader is participating in the Grove City farmers market for the third year.

The opening day May 15 was "awesome," she said.

"It's great to see so many people out and about again," Kostenbader said. "There were a lot of people we didn't get a chance to see last year with everything going on. Everybody (was) just standing around and chatting with each other. It was great. It's what a farmers market's all about."

More information about Popped Cornfections is available at facebook.com/cornfections.

Shelley Turski sold all of her available stock at the May 15 market.

"We weren't expecting this kind of business," she said. "We're going to make sure we bring more items next week."

The Grove City resident offers homemade nutrient-rich treats through her business, Shelley's Simple Sweets.

"I'm a registered dietitian and I love baking, so it's a way for me to combine my two passions," Turski said.

Her baked goods, including avocado chip cookies, sweet potato cookies, sweetpea blondies and poppyseed muffins, are designed to allow customers to enjoy guilt-free desserts, she said.

The farmers market felt more normal, Turski said.

"There seems to be a lot more people stopping by," she said during the final hour of the May 15 market. 

Turski said she is relying on foot traffic for her market sales.

"It just seems more personal and a better experience," she said. "I really love meeting and talking to the people who stop by our booth."

More information about her baked goods business is available at shelleyssimplesweets.com.

Jordan Floyd was participating in her first-ever market May 15.

The Commercial Point resident has a new business, Floyd's Sweet Tooth, to sell her homemade dessert items, including cookies, cake pops, brownies and cinnamon rolls.

"I just started the business a little more than a year ago," Floyd said. "It's been a lot of fun."

Along with the items she'll be selling at the farmers market, Floyd also bakes cakes, cookies and other treats on order for special occasions and celebrations. 

The farmers market was everything she expected and more, Floyd said.

"It's been nice to meet everyone," she said. "I really enjoy seeing people's reactions when they sample our baked goods."

One of the most popular items seemed to be the cake pops, which is, in essence, cake on a stick.

"It's a fun way to eat cake," Floyd said. "Children really love them."

The market is scheduled to run for 17 weeks throughout the summer, Conrad said.

More vendors will join as the summer progresses, she said.

"It's Ohio, so the calendar will dictate when produce vendors will be able to bring in their goods," Conrad said. 

About 45 to 50 vendors have signed up to participate when the market's summer season begins in late June, she said.

More information about the farmers market is available at gcchamber.org/farmers-market.

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