It was all smiles on the faces of organizers on Friday as the Dearborn Farmers Market celebrated the final market day of the 2013 season.
"The community really came out and supported us this year," market manager Maureen McIlrath said. "Our attendance numbers were up, and our vendors were happy with the number of people who came out to shop."
McIlrath said market traffic ranged from 700 to 900 people per week.
"That's pretty typical," she said. "We had a few days of bad weather that affected turnout, but overall we're pretty happy with the community response."
McIlrath said changing the hours to start later in the day in order to capitalize on the business lunch crowds helped drive visitors to the market.
Other changes included the addition of cooking and ice carving demonstrations, music provided by school groups and an evening market.
McIlrath, the founder of the Going Green Foundation and Crowley Park Organic Farm, took over the market from Millie Judd mid-season and said she plans to expand its offerings next year.
"I'd really like to work with the students at Henry Ford Community College more," she said. "When it's hot outside, I'd like to use a solar powered cooker and other 'green' projects to show people how they can live healthier lives."
McIlrath said she's also in discussions with the city about moving the market to the pavilion at Ford Field Park in order to provide more shelter from Mother Nature for vendors.
"A challenge this year was the heat and rain, or tents blowing over," she explained. "There wouldn't be those issues under the pavilion, plus there is free parking."
One change that might not come back next year is the market's evening hours.
"We originally planned three evenings, but because of the weather, we were only able to offer one evening," she said. "We're currently evaluating whether or not we will bring the program back next year."
Winter market opening Nov. 17In an effort to keep shopping available to customers in the off-season, a new winter market will launch on Nov. 17. The market will be held at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in the Hubbard Ballroom on the third Sunday of each month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning in November.
The market will be run by the city of Dearborn and is co-sponsored by the Dearborn Recreation and Parks Department, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce and the Dearborn Farmers and Artisans Market.
"People can watch for gift baskets and other holiday offerings at the indoor market," McIlrath said. "We think that this is a great way to keep up the interest in supporting small businesses."
The indoor market will be open to all vendors, not just Michigan-based companies.
For more information, or for a vendor application, visit www.Dearbornfarmersmarket.com.