For the Homewood Farmers Market, Saturday was a double final: It was the last day of the summer market season and probably the last day the market will ever call the Village Hall parking lot home.
When the summer market opens May 28, 2016, it will be located on the new Martin Square streetscape that was built this past summer. Vendors will line Martin Avenue from Ridge Road north to Chestnut Road, according to market Manager Kate Duff.
“The market will be better integrated with other village events,” she said. Most of the village’s seasonal festivals take place on Martin Avenue south of Ridge Road.
That will help underscore the market’s role as a kind of mini-festival each week, she said.
“It should be a Saturday morning adventure,” she said. “It’s not just about buying food. It’s about seeing your neighbors, seeing what’s going on in town. It’s something to look forward to each week.”
The trees, brick surface, columns and benches of the new streetscape will make for a better atmosphere for the market than the parking lot has been, and the move will free up parking space for vendors and patrons, Duff said.
The move is also expected to benefit musicians, who occasionally find it difficult to hear themselves sing over passing trains on the nearby tracks.
Most of the market’s main features are likely to continue. In addition to a variety of food vendors, the market will have live music, activities for children and booths for community groups.
One new feature of the market this year, the Hunt & Gather Market, was considered a success by Duff and Hunt & Gather curator Anna Devries. It is expected to continue in 2016.
Hunt & Gather was a monthly event, a separate section of the market devoted to collectables and handcrafted specialty items. The new feature’s main impediment this year was the weather. Because some of the products are weather-sensitive, like wooden furniture and carved books, the session was postponed twice because of rainy days.
Nevertheless, Duff said the vendors who participated this year reported they did well, and other vendors benefited, too, from an increase in traffic on Hunt & Gather Market days. Devries said traffic increased by up to 200 patrons when the Hunt & Gather Market was open.
Devries, who is also a Hunt & Gather vendor with her refinished furnishings, said she has gotten a positive response from a number of vendors who already had plans this summer.
“We have a lot more vendors looking to join us next year,” she said, which will expand the number and variety of offerings.
She is currently soliciting feedback from patrons and vendors to find out their views about how things went this year and what changes they would like to see. One new feature Duff is considering is a mid-week afternoon or evening market session, and she would like patron feedback on that idea.
For those patrons who miss the market in the off season, the wait will again be shorter than it once was. The winter indoor market, which made its debut in 2015, will return starting the last Saturday in January. It will be open from 9 a.m. to noon in Irwin Center, 18120 Highland Ave. in Homewood.
Indoor market sessions will be held Jan. 30, Feb. 27, March 26 and April 30.
Photos by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle.