A new sign is up and fundraising plans are underway to build a band shell at the downtown park in Pratt.

The last piece of the Merchants Park puzzle is on the horizon. Efforts are underway to raise $4,000 to get a band shell for the platform area in the park.
Deb Goyen, campaign manager for the shell, said they have acquired a $4,000 matching grant from NextEra Energy and are in the midst of raising $4,000 that will be put with the grant money to build the band shell.
Rod Maphet has drawn up plans for the simple, wooden structure that will provide shade for performing artists during the hot summer months when the park hosts farmers markets on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and other activities at other times.
The band shell will complete everything planned for the park. A Merchants Park sign was recently completed and installed on the east side of the park. Goyen said she is optimistic that donors will come forward and provide the needed funds to complete the park.
When Goyen put out a call for funds to purchase plants and trees for the park, she was surprised when two people donated all the funds necessary to get the plants.
“It’s amazing how generous people are in Pratt,” Goyen said.
Anyone wanting to donate for the band shell can do so through the South Central Community Foundation and receive a tax deduction. They may contact Goyen at 620-352-0203 to donate.
This is the third year of operation for Merchants Park. Its primary use is a space for a farmers market that is held from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday from May through the end of October, Ellen Mohler market manger.
The market will also be open on Wednesday nights from 5:30 p.m. to dusk.
Originally, the second Saturday of each month featured live entertainment but this year, entertainment is being scheduled for every Saturday, Mohler said.
Besides entertainment, other activities are also planned including a May 4 opening day presentation by Theresa Stephens on vermi composting with worms. Gardening, cooking demonstrations, chalk drawing contests for the kids and other activities are planned this summer.
While the farmers market is the chief use of the park, it is available for other activities. An outdoor movie, live band concerts and a laser light show have been held on the site in the past. Performers, organizations and anyone needing a space for an event are encouraged to make use of this area for their  event.
“It’s not just for the farmers market. It’s for any kind of entertainment,” Goyen said. “It’s an event arena for activities in Pratt.”
Merchants Park was originally a project for a Leadership 2000 Plus class. The project took five years to get going because of other projects in the area. Members of the class Tracey Beverlin and Carol Stull spearheaded the effort that had to go on hold for a while during the downtown beautification project and renovation of the Parrish Hotel into Parrish Lofts, Goyen said.
As a home for a farmers market, the park has provided a place to sell anything homegrown or homemade, Mohler said.
Last year, 31 vendors made use of the area and sold produce, meats, baked goos, honey, lotions, craft items and more. Applications for vendors are available at the Pratt Public Library or online at prattksfarmersmarket.com or contact Mohler at 620-770-1313.
The park was originally designed to beautify the area and provide a farmers market to help bring people to downtown Pratt for shopping.
The farmers market has been a success. The vendors are pleased although they do have to deal with the summer heat and those Kansas winds. Shelter tents are available to keep out the sun and vendors have learned to bring weights to hold the shelters in place.
Vendors provide fresh vegetables, fruit, baked goods and more. People come out to enjoy the market and get good products, Goyen said.