Farmers Market Association speaks at city council meeting

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – The fight continues for the Farmers Market Association to stay in downtown Wichita Falls. Tuesday morning, members of the association, vendors and community members spoke out to the Wichita Falls City Council.

This is as a result of Downtown Wichita Falls Development choosing not to renew their lease with the association.

The goal Tuesday was for those supporting the Farmers Market Association to express their feelings on wanting to reach a new lease agreement, but they would need the council to rescind its approval of the final contract offer from Downtown Development first in order to do so.

“I think that the offers we had were just something that was not economically viable for us, but we do want to sit down, negotiate in good faith and come up with an amicable solution for everybody involved, meaning the vendors, the customers, downtown businesses, city staff, everybody,” Scott Poenitzsch, Farmers Market Association president, said.

The Farmers Market Association and many supporters spoke their piece at the Wichita Falls City Council meeting in hopes of saving the association and everything that would be lost with it.

One vendor said this is the full time job of many vendors he works with.

“I am one of the long-term vendors of the farmers market,” Carol Castro, a vendor, said. “I do make my living there, it is my sole place where I sell to the public aside from my home studio.”

The association said they appreciate everyone who is fighting for them and it is important to get their voices heard.

“It was important today to see the turnout from the members of the association, the businesses, from just concerned citizens,” Castro said. “It really touched my heart.”

However, city officials and Downtown Development want to clarify that they are not pushing anyone out, but instead want to move forward with the farmers market under Downtown Development’s management.

“We are not telling any vendors to leave, we are not telling the Farmers Market Association to disband,” Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said. “They can still be an association, the farmers can still show up, all the vendors can still show up.”

“On behalf of the board and staff of Downtown Wichita Falls Development, I want to be clear that under our management of the downtown farmers market, all vendors are encouraged and welcomed to stay to continue to conduct business, including every member of the Farmers Market Association,” Becky Raeke, Interim President for Downtown Wichita Falls Development, said.

The Farmers Market Association is prepared to move locations and set up elsewhere, but not without trying to find a solution first.

Possible solutions were presented to the city council, but because this was not an agenda item and only part of public comment, no action could be taken. But the Farmers Market Association said they will continue to work and see if there is a deal that can be agreed upon.

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