Farmers market progressing toward pavilion

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Farmers welcome rain clouds when their crops are thirsty, but when it comes time to sell their share of tomatoes and hot peppers at the local farmers market, they prefer clear skies.


A plan for a pavilion to cover the Main Street Farmers Market in Washington would eliminate any weather woes, but it is still in the fundraising stage nearly two years after it was proposed by the Farmers Market Board.


“It’s kind of a multi-pronged capital campaign,” said Suzanne Ewing, president of the board. “One part of it is the community. We really want the community to come to our market, and they’d like to have a pavilion over them so they can shop on rainy days and hot and sunny days in comfort.”


The 1,500-square-foot, open-air pavilion, which was proposed by the board in 2011, will provide permanent shelter over two city-owned parking lots on South Main Street. The market, which is held in the lower lot, features more than two dozen vendors selling produce, flowers, wine and other treats and confections, in addition to live entertainment. The pavilion will be maintained by the City of Washington, and it will also include plumbing, restrooms and a market office.


So far, about 40 percent of the $850,000 budget has been raised. MSFM received the bulk of funds through grants from the state Department of Community and Economic Development and the county’s Local Share Account program. Private donors contributed $35,000 to the project, including a $30,000 donation from Whiskey Rebellion Festival sponsors in 2011.


The board also raised funds through the Washington County Community Foundation, which is hosting an event Sept. 10 called WCCF Gives, in which donations to any of the featured nonprofits will be increased by a percentage of a $100,000 match pool.


“On that particular day, they’ll get more bang for their buck,” Ewing said of donations to the project. Donations also can be made, through the MSFM’s website.


Ewing said the board is still applying for grants through tourism agencies and foundations.


She hopes that the finished project will open up opportunities for other local nonprofits that wish to hold events.


Although Ewing would like it if the pavilion were built already, she said the plan is “ready to go” and that construction will be simple once funds are secured.


“We’re very cognizant of making the finishes very maintenance-free, long-lasting and durable,” she said. “We’re trying to make it usable for as many different functions as possible.”


Washington Mayor Brenda Davis said the city hopes to rent out the pavilion to interested parties, in the same way that the Washington Park pavilions are currently operated.


“It’s going to be a nice town center for the city of Washington that could host activities throughout the year, not just one day a week or during a particular time frame,” Davis said. “There could be multiple events that are held there throughout the year, so we’re looking forward to that.”


To make a donation, visit www.msfm.org and click on the “WCCF Gives” image on the right side of the screen.


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