Second Avenue SE is blocked off for the first Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market of the season in 2021. Crowd sizes at the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels with 10,000 to 12,000 attendees each Saturday. Last year’s market drew crowds of about 8,000. (The Gazette)
A sign encouraging social distancing, masks and one way foot traffic is seen during a 2021 downtown Cedar Rapids market. Vendors at the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market’s 2022 season will form a modified one-way loop. This year, more streets will feature vendors on both sides of the street like years past, though many one-sided streets will remain after first being done as a health precaution in 2021. (The Gazette) (The Gazette)
Ruth Ann Lapp of Mt. Pleasant checks out asparagus at the Mount Pleasant farmers market May 22, 2021. The Mount Pleasant Farmers Market will not return in 2022, organizers announced in April. (Jim Johnson/The Union)
Members of the Cedar Rapids Community Band’s Heartland Brass Quintet perform in Greene Square at the Downtown Farmers’ Market in Cedar Rapids in June 2016. The Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market will feature much more entertainment this season as it expects to most pre-pandemic norms with increased traffic. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Two years after the pandemic forced drive-thru farmers markets in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, both markets are returning in full force for a season expected to bring attendance back to pre-pandemic levels.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market, the Iowa City Farmers Market and other small markets across the Corridor.
Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market
As it returns to its traditional May start, which was impeded in 2020 and 2021 with pandemic interruptions, the 17th annual Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market is planning entertainment galore.
With more vendors than shoppers have seen since 2019, coordinators expect the market to see 10,000 to 12,000 attendees per weekend — up from about 8,000 last season.
“ (Last year) was a little less than what we typically see, but we were expecting that with the ongoing pandemic,” said Maddix Stovie, planner for the market with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “We expect more this year. A lot of people are starting to get out and about in the new normal.”
Where: Downtown Cedar Rapids on Second Avenue SE, Third Avenue SE and Fourth Avenue SE between Second Street SE and Fifth Street SE
When: 7:30 a.m. to noon on May 28, June 4 and 18, July 2 and 16, Aug. 6 and 20, and Sept. 17
Vendors: See a map of vendors at cedarrapids.org/events/farmers-market
Details: The market will mostly be a one-way loop, though some streets will feature vendors on both sides. Parking will be at the Third Avenue bridge parking ramp.
Debuting with back-to-back weekends, the market will start on May 28, running 7:30 a.m. to noon every first and third Saturday in June, July and August before commencing with a fall market on Sept. 17. The fall market makes a return after its successful debut last year.
This year’s market route will feature an amended one-way loop through Second, Third and Fourth Avenue SE — a pandemic adaptation that reduced COVID-19 transmission risks last year — though some streets will feature vendors on both sides. One benefit of the new feature, which attendees came to enjoy, is traffic flow.
“We heard such great feedback. Community members loved it, vendors loved it,” Stovie said. “People were able to take more time at each vendor because they didn’t have to look back and forth.”
This year will have significantly more vendors than 2021, starting the season with more than 150 with potential for up to 200. Last year, there were about 115 vendors by the end of the season, with the number reduced as a health precaution.
With a large number of returning vendors, planners have given priority to produce in the market to serve local demand. Popular vendors will be selling flowers, hot food and cool treats, arts, crafts and more.
As vendors and attendees return en mass, entertainment is also making a come back to keep the momentum going.
“A lot of community members missed that aspect of the market,” Stovie said. “That’s the biggest change this year.”
Entertainment will feature main acts with local performers and musicians at Greene Square. Smaller acts including dance, opera, taekwondo and children’s activities like face painting and balloon animals will be dispersed throughout the market.
The Gazette is a media sponsor of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market.
Iowa City Farmers Market
Though Iowa City’s Wednesday market closed due to lack of vendor interest after years of decline, the Saturday market is ramping up to be as big as ever.
“We have an overwhelming number of vendors wanting to get into that market,” said Brad Barker, Iowa City Farmers Market coordinator. “We really fill out our stalls once we hit the stride of the season. … We’re probably back to 2019 numbers.”
This season will feature 100 stalls, with most committed to vendors for the entire season. Though the season started May 7, a full showing of vendors still is ramping up due to a delayed growing season.
Where: 415 E. Washington St., Iowa City
When: 7:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October
Vendors: For a full map of vendors, visit maps.managemymarket.com/5131
Details: The open air market is held on the Chauncey Swan parking ramp, Chauncey Swan Park and E. Washington Street in downtown Iowa City
Though the Wednesday market declined, the enthusiasm for Saturday has remained strong as it returns. The Saturday market will feature entertainment June through October.
“This year, we got off to a great start,” Barker said. “You’re seeing people get comfortable going out and being in those crowded environments.”
Other farmers markets in Linn and Johnson counties
A multitude of other farmers markets are planned for the 2022 season, but not all from last year have returned.
Organizers for the Mount Vernon Farmers Market, held at First Street Community Center for the past several years, announced in an April 11 email that the market would not return for 2022.
“Unfortunately management availability, scheduling conflicts, and personal workloads have necessitated this choice,” organizers Rick and Trude Elliott said in an announcement. “It is our very sincere hope that someday a market may come back to Mount Vernon under the guidance and renewed vision of new leadership.”
Noelridge Farmers Market in Cedar Rapids has cut back from three days per week to just one on Wednesdays.
New this year, NewBo City Market will host a weekly market in partnership with Feed Iowa First to support immigrant farmers every Thursday and Saturday through September.
For a comprehensive list of markets, visit the statewide database maintained by Market Maker or visit the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website.
- Central City Mainstreet Farmers Market: 4 to 6 p.m. every Thursday in June through September in the United Church of Christ parking lot at 38 N. Fifth St., Central City
- Taube Park (Marion) Farmers Market: 8 to 11 a.m. every Saturday until Sept. 10 at Taube Park, 2200 31st St. in Marion
- Marion Uptown Markets: 8 a.m. to noon on June 11, July 9, Aug. 13 and Sept. 24 at Eighth Avenue and 12th Street
- Noelridge Farmers Market: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays until Oct. 12; 4900 Council St. NE, Cedar Rapids
- Hiawatha Farmers Market: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday through Oct. 31 at Guthridge Park, N. 10th Avenue and Lyndhurst Drive, Hiawatha
- NewBo City Farmers Market: 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays through September at 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
- Coralville Farmers Market: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday until Oct. 5 at Iowa River Landing, 201 E. Ninth St., Coralville
- Solon Farmers Market: 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Oct. 4
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