Along with the live music, fresh pastries, and the smell ofdried herbs and flowers, the Cheney Farmers Market wraps up itsfirst season this fall.
Open Fridays from 2-6 p.m., the market set up shop in June,continuing until Oct. 1 with a special encore Oct. 15 for theGovernor’s Cup.
Sponsored by “Pathways to Progress,” the marketoffers not only food and crafts, but an inviting atmosphere aswell.
It’s been a successful start. Beginning with ninemerchants, as many as 17 independent vendors lined College Streetthis summer, selling fruit, flowers, pottery, “I loveCheney” shirts, herbs, candles, and fresh edibles.
“This place has real potential,” said Glen Cooper, afruit grower and vendor from the Tri-Cities, while giving a sampleslice of fresh white peach. “We sell a lot more in Spokane,but we like coming here.”
Glen and his wife Pat are like many vendors who travel frommarket to market selling their products at regional events likethis one.
Part of the reason Cheney’s market attracts vendors likethe Coopers is the market’s location.
Nestled under the shade of tall brick buildings in downtownCheney off of First Street, the location offers protection from thesun on hot days and from wind on cooler days.
Compared to Spokane’s market, which is located in a largeparking lot without natural shade or appeal, the CheneyFarmer’s Market also gives a greater feeling of hometowncommunity.
Friendly offers of samples and explanations, combined with liveCeltic harp music, grace the air and make the merchandise even moreappealing.
Offering ethnic variety to the market, Jewel Baccarella presentsher namesake product, “pizzelles,” crunchy Italianwaffle cookies made from the recipe of her great, great, greatgrandmother, to passing pedestrians and children.
“Business has been good, real good,” JewelBaccarella said as she offered samples of apple cake and chocolatecookies from her new local Italian bakery, Pizzelles Plus.
Business has been good for local retailers, who have noticed asubstantial increase in Friday commerce when the market isopen.
That is part of the goal of “Pathways to Progress,”a community non-profit organization created five years ago torevitalize historical downtown Cheney.
“We’re all about making downtown better for all ofus,” said Rhonda Elliott, president of Pathways to Progress.”We’re working hard.”
Their hard work is paying off.
“Pathways,” backed by city, university, and businessleaders, cosmetically improved much of downtown Cheney, installingplanters and flowers, new bus kiosks and brick lined sidewalks.
They presented appearance guidelines to store owners whileaiding in the implementation of the improvements and wereinstrumental in the construction of Brewster Hall.
Future plans include year-round, white decorative lights fortrees lining First Street.
“Pathways” current endeavor, the Farmer’sMarket, is a surprising success.
Revenue from vendor fees and merchandise sales paid for thecosts of the market with some extra to pay for additionaladvertising.
“Pathways” continues to be optimistic about thefuture, and they should be.
Three years ago, an independent organization attempted a similardowntown market, but left for the west side of the state and forgreener pastures.
If support for the Cheney market continues to grow, it could bea rallying point for downtown revitalization.
“Come down to the market,” Elliott said.”It’s a fun place to get fresh food.”