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Farmers market vendors offer advice to city

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Photo: Keystone Heights City Manager Terry Suggs (center) and Interim Farmers Market Manager Lynn Rutkowski (right) talk to vendors about improving the farmers market performance.

BY DAN HILDEBRAN
Monitor Editor

Vendors of the Keystone Heights Farmers Market offered suggestions to city officials for improving the venue’s performance during a March1 meeting held at Natural Park.

The group overwhelmingly endorsed a suggestion by City Manager Terry Suggs that he change the event’s operating hours from 9-1 to 10-2.

However, the group rejected a second recommendation by Suggs. He told vendors that the Orange Park and Green Cove Springs markets do not convene every week, and asked the Keystone vendors if they also would prefer a lighter schedule. The merchants said that a non-weekly schedule like the Orange Park market, which meets on the second and fourth Sunday of each month, might confuse consumers.

The merchants also made recommendations to Suggs and Interim Market Manager Lynn Rutkowski, including creating activities for children, booking entertainment to attract more foot traffic and finding a way for customers to pay with bank cards at the venue.

Rutkowski told the group she is organizing a Kids’ Day for March 14.

Suggs told the vendors that vehicular traffic within the park during market hours must stop. The group discussed options to allow vendors to properly set up, while also reducing car and truck movements within the venue between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Suggs also said he is looking for a permanent market manager and added that to avoid conflicts if interest, he will not hire a vendor for the job.

Several vendors said they wanted Rutkowski to remain on the job permanently. Suggs told them that with her other responsibilities within city hall, Rutkowski could not also manage the market on a permanent basis.

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