A big crowd gathered May 13 at the first Farmer's Market in Merchant Park to kick off the first of many farmer's markets to come.

Baked goods, fresh meat, a variety of crafts and some live entertainment marked the first farmer's market at Merchant Park on May 13.

A big crowd of shoppers was on hand early to check out the bargains and to get their shopping done before the temperature warmed up.

Some 20 vendors were on had to display their products including several with fresh baked goods and some homemade jams and jellies. There were a number of craft vendors including bath balms, signs and even bio char, a mineral supplement for gardens and flower beds.

While shopping, crowds were treated to live music from three different groups. The weather cooperated and made a prefect setting for the first of many farmer's markets in downtown Pratt.

Jessica Gnad, a spearhead for the farmer's market and market manager, said she had been working with Deb Goyen and the Kansas Health Coalition for over a year to make the market a reality.

Gand's husband is in a consulting company. She attended a conferance with him that inspired her to get busy do something about connecting vendors and shoppers of home grown or homemade products. She decided a farmer's market was a great opportunity for her to help promote establishing more home grown gardens to produce better food and healthier life styles.

She jumped on the band wagon and got on Facebook and started posting "why not have a merchant park in downtown Pratt." This will help people connect with healthier food. It took a year to get from concept to a busy market on Fourth and Main in Pratt, Gnad said.

While the city will make the farmer's market available every Saturday, an emphasis will be placed on the second Saturday of each month with special music and other events through October to add to the shopping experience.

Interested vendors can contact Deb Goyen at the Peoples Bank at 620-672-5611 for applications. Vendor items have to be homemade. No going out and buying finished products from stores and reselling. This is a home crafted activity.

Work continues to get the word out about the market. It has been registered with "From the Land of Kansas."

A goal is to get the area people coming to buy homemade items from area shoppers and draw shoppers from outside the area as well.

"This is a community building event," Gnad said.

Establishing the farmer's market took a lot of community support including the city, Bruce Pinkall from the city rec department and Mike Younger from EBH Engineering.

All this came together to make the farmer's market a reality.

Deb Goyen, who was another force that made the farmer's market a reality, said the vendors were pleased because people were buying their wares. Both the food and craft vendors did well.

The weather also cooperated and provided a good day, sometimes a little windy, for shopping.

"It could not have been better," Goyen said.

There was area for more vendors and Goyen said they hoped to expand and fill up the park. The market is for the vendors to make money. There is no charge to vendors. There is free table and tent rental so its a profit event for vendors.

The site has proven to be an advantage because of the wind. It helped keep things a little cooler, although it did tend to lift the shelter tents occasional.

All in all, the event was success and a start for many markets to come. Markets are every Saturday and the next Second Saturday with special added events sill be June 10, the day of finals for the Miss Kansas Pageant.

@GaleR_Tribune