Perry Farmers Market to kick off 2021 season on June 3

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Deb Carter, of Hidden Acres in Coon Rapids, gives change back to Kathy Miller during the 2020 Perry Farmers Market.

The Perry Farmers Market will return on June 3 for a full season of activities. 

Last year’s market had a delayed opening in July because COVID-19. The 2021 market will be held from 4-7 p.m. Thursdays from June 3 through Sept. 30 on 2nd Street.

“We had an excellent market last year despite everything,” Perry Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynsi Pasutti said. “It was a great outlet for individuals looking to have an activity and get outside and have some sort of normalcy. I’m looking forward to expanding upon that with more vendors, more activities, bringing people downtown.”

Some of those activities include bringing back the special event nights on the third Thursday of each month. Health and wellness night will kick off the special events on June 17. Other nights include public safety in July, back to school in August and tentatively public works in September.

The market is looking to expand even further with the addition of prepared food vendors. While Pasutti said they are working to line up one food vendor each Thursday, they may start with having food available during the special event nights. Hy-Vee plans to grill out for health and wellness night while the Perry Fire Department will be grilling for public safety night.

Korey Averill, of Granger, checks out produce as Kathy Gomez bags up a batch of green beans during the 2020 Perry Farmers Market.

Vendors will be located along 2nd Street between Willis Avenue and Warford Street. Josh Davis Memorial Plaza will also be used for additional activities and special events.

“We’ll have what everyone is looking for as far as vegetables and fruits but also crafts and baked goods as well. A lot of the returning favorites for everybody and then excited to bring in a couple new ones as well,” Pasutti said.

She added that the market is always looking for new vendors and vendor forms are located at PerryIA.org/Farmers-Market

“I think we’ve continued to grow and to provide value to our vendors, our shoppers and the community as a whole,” Pasutti said.

Free sweet corn is handed out at the Perry Chamber booth on July 30, 2020, at the Perry Farmers Market as part of the Perry Library's Health Initiatives grant.

Community organizations have taken note, she said, and have worked to partner with the market for various initiatives, including the Perry Public Library and the Perry Area Emergency Food Council.

The Perry Public Library started monthly produce giveaways in 2020 through its Healthy Steps program. The program will return in 2021 with the library purchasing items from market vendors and then distributing it for free to attendees. 

The library will distribute honey from Spring Valley Honey Farms on June 17 from from 4-7 p.m., or while supplies last. The library plans to distribute free sweet corn in July, melon in August and apples in September.

New this year will be a program through the Perry Area Emergency Food Council. The council received a Bock Family Foundation grant for farmers market pantry dollars.

Joyce Murdock buys produce from Geneen Tibben during the Perry Farmers Market on July 2, 2020.

The grant allows the council to distribute farmers markets dollars in increments of five dollars to food pantry clients. The dollars will be distributed to families based on household size. The vouchers can then be redeemed at the farmers market for any item.

“That’s really exciting that it will be infusing dollars into the farmers market and those local vendors and it will be helping with food security in our community. And just generally bringing more people to the market to be aware of that opportunity,” Pasutti said.

She added that the market was certified to accept SNAP benefits at the end of last season. This year, the market will be able to accept SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks right from the start. Attendees will be able to swipe their SNAP EBT cards at the Perry Chamber booth to receive tokens to use at vendor booths. 

As for the look of the market, Pasutti said they are planning on following similar COVID-19 protocols used for last year’s event. 

The Perry Farmers Market will still feature Stay Healthy at the Market signs when it kicks off the 2021 season June 3. Attendees are encouraged to wear face coverings and to practice social distancing.

Face coverings will be required for vendors and volunteers and encouraged for shoppers. Hand sanitizer stations will be available and signs will be posted about staying safe at the market. Vendor booths will be spaced out and shoppers are encouraged to maintain social distancing.

“We know that there are new CDC guidelines and recommendations. But we still want to provide an atmosphere that makes people on the whole spectrum feel safe to attend because it is a gathering, even though it’s outside,” Pasutti said.

She added that protocols may change throughout the season but they are looking to make the market as safe as possible for vendors, volunteers and shoppers.

For more information, visit the Perry Farmers’ Market or Perry Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

Mike Carter hands a bouquet to a customer at the Hidden Acres booth during opening day of the Perry Farmers Market on Thursday, July 2. PHOTO BY ALLISON ULLMANN/THE PERRY CHIEF