116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION - As Iowans face freezing temperatures this week, the Marion Chamber of Commerce is planning for the warmer months ahead.
The Uptown Marion Market, held in the summer and fall, now is accepting vendor applications. The Marion Chamber is preparing to hold a pandemic-safe market during a busy Marion construction season.
Tami Schlamp, Marion Chamber director of member services, said this year's market will follow COVID-19 health protocols similar to last year's events.
The market was held last summer on Sixth Avenue instead of at City Square Park, to help with crowd flow, Schlamp said.
However, the event this year cannot be held at City Square Park or Sixth Avenue because of construction projects in Marion's Uptown.
In the summer, Marion's streetscape project will close portions of Seventh Avenue. Construction is scheduled to turn the Marion Square Plaza strip mall into a new, mixed-use development named Broad and Main, and the new Marion Library will be in the midst of construction.
Schlamp said this year's market will be held in a city-owned parking lot at Eighth Avenue and 12th Street.
'It'll open up some new opportunities. We're hoping to do some partnerships with local businesses, but we haven't worked those details out yet,” she said.
Last year, masks were required for all vendors and staff and strongly requested for attendees.
'It went really well,” Schlamp said. 'We did have direction from the state, the Department of Agriculture, (Department of) Inspection & Appeals and the Iowa State University Extension Office. They had protocols that provided guidance. That included controlling entrances.”
Schlamp said at this point, the plans are to move forward with the same protocols as last year.
'If we get new guidance, we will make adjustments,” she said. 'The further we get through the summer, hopefully more people are vaccinated.”
Last summer, Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed for farmers markets to carry on during months when Iowa was seeing high COVID-19 spread. Reynolds permitted food and produce vendors to sell products, treating the markets like grocery stores when it came to regulations.
Schlamp said the Marion market had about half of the vendors last year than it normally would have.
'We did what we could do,” she said. 'As far as attendees, we saw a steady increase throughout the summer. Luckily, it's an outdoor event with open air.”
The hope this year, Schlamp said, is to get closer to the normal event. Last year's June market didn't allow for children.
'We had to cancel festivals and music last year,” she said. 'We want a family-friendly event this year. We missed having that, where you can come with your kids.”
Last year was supposed to be the launch of the Power to Produce partnership with the ISU Extension Office, but it was canceled due to the pandemic, Schlamp added. The program is scheduled to take place this year.
'We were ready to roll it out,” she said. 'The program teaches kids about the importance of food and produce.”
This year's Uptown Marion Markets are scheduled June 12, July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 25. Interested vendors can apply at the chamber's website.
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