This past July, we launched the Red River Market, a farmer’s market in downtown Fargo dedicated to creating a space for the community to gather and experience the joys of locally produced food.
From the ringing of the starting bell at 10:00am, the streets of 2nd Avenue North and Broadway were filled with unique produce, delicious baked goods, freshly brewed coffee, handcrafted products by local makers, live music, and savory dishes from local food carts.
Over the span of 17 consecutive Saturdays, the market saw over 20,000 visitors. Besides the vendor goods, market goers got to experience so much more than perusing through vegetables. There was a foam playground for children, alpacas and miniature horses, a costume contest, and an exclusive performance from NDSU’s marching band, just to name a few.
At Folkways, we are always conjuring up ways for people to gather, connect, and enrich the community. To make these events happen, we used a creative placemaking process that helps us execute community building events. This process focuses on three basic elements: a space, something to do or see, and people to see and do it.
For the market, we used 2nd and Broadway as the space, vendors, music, other special events for our guests to engage with, and the visitors of the market as the people engaged. Creating this environment allowed local farmers and makers to connect and build relationships with their customers. It also gave visitors a chance to know where their goods came from and have a place to meet and have fun with friends new and old.
The market generated $100,000 of economic impact for our vendors. Here’s what some of our vendors have to say about their experience:
“We’ve met so many people and developed so many relationships with customers who are excited to tell us about what they’d make with last week’s haul...We entertained the idea of moving [out of the area], but now with the co-op opening, the Red River Market growing, and our increasingly diverse list of buyers, we feel really confident going into our fourth season.”
“The energy of the Red River Market is contagious. With live music, bustling crowds, and people dressed up as carrots, it’s hard not to put on a smile and maybe dance along with the music...The market as made it possible for people in the community to learn about and recognize my new bakery and to be convinced that vegan goodies can still be delicious.”
-Emily Swedberg of Lucid Bakery
“The Red River Market created a new level of awareness of our farm, what we do, and the health benefits of eating fresh rolled oats, mushrooms, and things they have just never tried before...In a very fun way there is a cross pollination going on from restaurants, farmers, and consumers in a big circle of happy eaters.” -Noreen Thomas of Doubting Thomas Farms
“I was overall, very pleased with the layout, management, and marketing aspect of it. I was surprised and happy with the number of people who came and bought! The customers supported me very well and were encouraging too...My business has been given a real boost in profit and customers...I see this Market as continuing to grow and getting better every year!” -Mara Solberg of Solberg Farms
The Red River Market ended its inaugural season on the day of Halloween. Vendors sold the last of the season’s bounty and market goers gathered to enjoy their last fried pie. All said goodbye, for now, to their well-loved weekly tradition, with the remnants preserved in mason jars and memories. Until next year!