With a record number of vendors, Ames Main Street Farmers' Market starts Saturday

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Jennifer Buehler of Ames browses vegetables at Ames Main Street Farmers' Market Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The farmers' market opens for the 2021 season on Saturday.

The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market is seeing a record number of vendors this year as it kicks off its new season Saturday.

“We are going to have a record number of vendors,” said Lojean Petersen, who’s in her ninth season as manager of the market. “The first couple of weeks, we might be missing a couple of the produce people because it hasn’t been quite warm enough for that yet.

"Once we get rolling, we are going to have a great variety of vendors.”

Petersen’s vendor list is up to 68 right now — up 15 from last year — and will likely grow to more than 130 as nonprofits and occasional vendors get rolling.

“It’s a nice variety of vendors — a variety of artisans, craftsmen, bakers and produce,” Petersen said. “We made sure it was a nice mix.”

The 2020 season was affected by COVID-19 protocols, which decreased the scale of the farmers’ market and limited the number of people in attendance at any one time.

“Last year was a challenge, but I think we’re over the hump,” Petersen said. “Or at least we’re getting there.

“I think we’re all ready to get back to somewhat normal and be out and about.”

Where and when is the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market?

The farmers’ market will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays in the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street, including the Tom Evans Plaza. The market runs every Saturday through Oct. 16.

What are the COVID-19 protocols?

Since the Ames City Council has a mandate for face masks in public until June 30, people are asked to wear face coverings to the Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market.

“We ask that they honor that mandate for now and maybe the city will change it,” she said. “We will follow the city’s guidelines for that.”

“Use good judgment, social distance,” Petersen added. “We will have vendors at a social distance, and they will be wearing masks — until we’re able to not wear masks.”

Can I bring my dog?

“We are pet friendly,” Petersen said. Marketgoers are welcome to bring their dogs on leashes.

Related:Des Moines' Downtown Farmers' Market returning for 46th season: Here's what to expect

Will there be contests this year?

Events like the Bacon Sweet & Savory, Salsa Contest and Chili Cook-Off are not on the calendar yet, but they may be added later in the season.

“We’re kind of waiting on contests right now and seeing how the summer goes,” Petersen said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m hoping that by mid-summer we’ll throw some of those into the schedule.”

The market’s Food Truck Showdown may happen later in the season as well.

“We didn’t have it right now because we weren’t sure what the atmosphere would be,” she said.

What music and activities are on the schedule for May?

“We’ve brought back music this year, which will make it feel a lot more like normal,” Petersen said. “That always adds so much atmosphere to the market.”

May 1: Live music by Ace Jones. Becca the Balloon Lady will be making balloon creations.

May 8: Live music by Brad & Kate. Hovick Petting Zoo will be the free activity.

May 15: Live music by Doomed Pioneer. Market coincides with 515 Day in downtown Ames.

May 22: Live music by Virginia Creeper. Free pony rides for kids. Deery of Ames, which is one of the market’s sponsors, is giving away about 300 free farmers’ market bags on a first-come-first-served basis.

May 29: Live music by Tom Richardson Band.