116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — With pent-up demand after a drive-thru version in 2020, the 16th season of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market will return in person with hopes for expansion by the end of the season.
Running 7:30 a.m. to noon every first and third Saturday of the month from June 19 to Oct. 2, the market will start with 100 vendors spaced out using only one side of streets. The kickoff this year is a significant increase from the 30 to 50 vendors that were present last year, but down slightly from the approximately 180 vendors present before the pandemic.
Where: Downtown Cedar Rapids, looping through Second Avenue SE, Second Street SE, Third Street SE, Fourth Avenue SE and Fifth Street SE.
When: 7:30 a.m. to noon on the following Saturdays: June 19, July 3, July 17, Aug. 7, Aug. 21, Sept. 4, Sept. 18, Oct. 2.
Vendors: To see a map of the market and vendor locations, visit cedarrapids.org/events/farmers-market/venue-map and click on the map.
Precautions: Vendors and attendees are encouraged to wear masks. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance asks patrons feeling ill or experiencing a fever to stay home from the market for the health and safety of the community.
“We’ve seen a lot of strong engagement with anything that we put on social media or in communications — people are really wanting this information,” said Melissa McCarville, strategy director for Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “People are pumped.”
Events planner Ellie Evans said the Economic Alliance is looking forward planning the market in person after last year’s drive-thru format, where patrons had to pre-order their purchases for pickup.
“We’ve definitely heard that the community is ready to get back and be in person and have our street lined with vendors again,” she said.
As the market works toward getting back to the one attendees remember before the pandemic, a few modifications will be in place.
Though the market will forgo traditional elements like children’s activities and live entertainment, shoppers will have a few new things to look forward to like autumn dates, new vendors and a pop-up vaccination clinic.
Prepared food options at the beginning of the season will be limited, with the ability to increase later in the season if public health guidance is relaxed.
In accordance with Linn County Public Health guidance, vendors will be socially distanced on either one side of the street or alternating sides of the street not directly across from one another through the season. Attendees and vendors are encouraged to wear masks.
“This is all just a starting point, and we will continuously evaluate protocols and programming throughout the season in response to the fluctuating COVID-19 virus infection levels and vaccination rates,” said Ellie Evans, events planner. “We hope to gradually increase vendors throughout the season as well as utilize both sides of the street.”
Maps for the new season indicate that the market could potentially add up to 50 more vendors by the end of the season. The route this season loops through downtown Cedar Rapids, encompassing parts of Second Avenue SE on the north, Second Street SE and Third Street SE on the west, Fourth Avenue SE on the south and Fifth Street SE on the east. Attendees are encouraged to follow the loop in one direction to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“This is one of our favorite venues because it’s a loop,” McCarville said.
First-ever fall market
With this year’s delayed start, the market will be held until Oct. 2, allowing shoppers to pick up fall favorites. The downtown market, which typically starts in May and ends in September, has never gone into October.
“We have heard from attendees and vendors that apples, cider, gourds, pumpkins and other fall produce are extremely sought after,” the Economic Alliance said in a news release. “This opportunity will better accommodate the growing season for those items as well.”
Market After Dark
Ongoing conversations are happening with the city, county and public health officials about the viability of having Market After Dark this year. Major modifications would be necessary due to the pandemic. A decision will be made and announced at a later date.
COVID-19 vaccines will be offered at a pop-up clinic in Greene Square on June 19 and July 17, where patrons can choose from the single-shot Johnson & Johnson or two-dose Pfizer.
New vendors this year include J & L Farms, a small fourth-generation family farm specializing in premium beef and pork, and Farm to Health Organics, which offers hemp-based personal care products.
On market days, attendees can park for free from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Five Seasons ramp, Paramount Theatre lot, GTC lot and Fourth Avenue ramp. Parking also will be available at the Convention Center ramp for $1.
Bicyclists can park and lock their bikes for free at the bike valet at Fourth Avenue and Fifth Street in Greene Square.
The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market will continue to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) benefits, allowing low-income families to buy fresh produce from local farmers.
Double Up Food Bucks, a program led by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, allows SNAP customers to receive an extra $10 per day when spending $10 in SNAP benefits on eligible produce and products at farmers markets.
The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market also will continue the Eastern Iowa Freedom from Hunger collaboration this year, gathering food donations for those in need.
Volunteers will walk through each market after the closing bell to gather food donations from vendors to load onto the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) Mobile Pantry. Donated food will be delivered to food pantries in Linn and surrounding counties.
Market patrons can donate purchased goods and produce from market vendors via a box at the information booth.
Other area markets
A multitude of other farmers markets are planned for the 2021 season. For a comprehensive list of markets, see the statewide database maintained at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Here are a few happening in Linn and Johnson counties.
- Hiawatha Farmers Market: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday until Oct. 31 at Guthridge Park’s 10th Avenue parking lot.
- Marion Farmers Market: 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday until Sept. 25 at Taube Park, 2200 31st St.
- Marion Uptown Markets: 8 a.m. to noon on June 12, July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 25 at Eighth Avenue and 12th Street.
- Mount Vernon Farmers Market: 4 to 6 p.m. every Thursday from May 6 to Sept. 30 at First Street Community Center, 221 First St. NE.
- Noelridge Farmers Market: Mondays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. until Oct. 11, closed Sept. 6; Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. until Oct. 13; and Fridays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. until Oct. 15; 4900 Council St. NE in Cedar Rapids.
- Chrome Horse Parking Lot Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 12, June 26, July 10, July 24 and Aug. 14 at Chrome Horse Saloon, 1201 Third St. SE in Cedar Rapids.
- Coralville Farmers Market: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Monday until Oct. 4 at Iowa River Landing in the westbound lane of East Ninth Street between Quarry Road and East Second Avenue. Closed on Labor Day.
- Iowa City Farmers Market: 5 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday and 7:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday at Chauncey Swan Ramp, 405 E. Washington St.
Comments: Reach reporter Elijah Decious at (319) 398-8340 and email@example.com