To the market

Market on Central got off to a roaring start for this year Saturday.

Visitors to downtown enjoyed a wide variety of vendors. And those vendors, and the market’s organizers, were grateful for the large, steady crowds.

The kids were just happy about the ponies.

“Kids love pony rides,” said Cameron Roe, of Lil’ Rednex Pony Rides. “We’ve been having a great day.”

About 50 vendors lined Central Avenue, selling everything from jewelry to wine to handcrafted wood items.

Crowds were larger than average, at an estimated 3,000 people or more, said Cindy Bush, of Garden Winery in Callender. Bush is also on the Market on Central committee.

“This is a very good crowd for a first one,” Bush said. “Usually, by noon, they would thin out, but the crowds are still here. They’re looking, they’re shopping, they’re eating the food.”

Paul Peterson, of Eagle Grove, brought a display from his business, Elegant Wood Turnings, featuring vases, salt and pepper grinders, and other items.

“Anything I can make on a lathe,” Peterson said.

More than just a chance to sell, the Market is good for advertising, he said. People see what he can make, and often have requests.

“Until people come across it, they’re not usually looking for it,” he said.

Janet Carlson, of Fort Dodge, ended up buying one of those grinders. She was out shopping with her daughter, who’s back from college.

“We only came to one last year, but we really liked it, so we decided to come today,” Carlson said. “It’s fun. Being outdoors, I love that, and the vendors are so friendly.”

One vendor, at least, found a receptive market downtown.

“I can’t hand this out fast enough,” said Ricky Ramirez, as he applied a free sample of maple syrup to a wooden stick.

He and his father run Great River Maple, from Iowa Falls, and will be at Market on Central for the rest of the season.

The Market is sponsored by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, but run by a committee of Growth Alliance members, business owners and city workers, said Cheryl O’Hern, Market manager.

O’Hern was one of the people who helped start the market four years ago, she said. It was part of the Iowa Great Places project, designed to help bring people downtown.

“And it worked,” she said.

The next Market on Central will be June 28, and will feature entertainment from the Shelly Bottorff Musical School.