Crowds Lead To More Changes For Berlin’s Farmers Market

Crowds Lead To More Changes For Berlin’s Farmers Market
A sign with reminders to attendees to the Berlin Farmers Market is pictured. Photo courtesy of Berlin Farmers Market Facebook page

BERLIN –   Town leaders agreed to pursue expanding the Berlin Farmers Market onto Main Street and to include downtown businesses.

On Monday, the Berlin Town Council agreed to try to broaden the farmers market to include a section of Main Street and to allow downtown shops to set up their wares on the sidewalk during the Sunday market.

“If that’s something we can make happen I think it’d be great,” Councilman Zack Tyndall said.

At the close of Monday’s meeting, Tyndall said he’d attended Sunday’s farmers market and noted how crowded it was. Because vendors are already set up on Pitts Street and Commerce Street, he suggested closing Main Street to vehicles during the hours of the market to allow space for more vendors.

“It’s going to provide a little bit more room for people to social distance,” Tyndall said. “Two, it’ll provide more space for people to conduct commerce.”

Mayor Gee Williams said it was a great idea. He said that in addition to closing Main Street during the market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, he wanted to encourage downtown businesses — most of which have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic — A to  set up  tables on the sidewalk if they were interested.

“We’ve got plenty of space,” he said. “I don’t see any difference between those businesses and the businesses that are participating in the farmers market.”

When Councilman Thom Gulyas asked if Williams was only inviting businesses the state had deemed essential, the mayor replied that he intended to invite all downtown businesses.

“Is that going to run afoul?” Gulyas asked.

Williams replied that he was determined to reopen the town in a common-sense way.

“I think it’s time to take some proactive reasonable strides,” Williams said. “This is a terrible thing that’s happened. In reality the rural counties in this state are being severely punished because of five counties where there’s a real problem … I feel for them, I’m really sorry for them, but … we’re all doing what we’re supposed to do and we’re being punished economically and the small businesses, not large businesses, are the foundation of the economics of our community, both from a standpoint of revenues and also employment. I think it’s time for small towns to stand up and be heard. I know that might not be totally popular but it’s not a time to do what’s popular it’s time to do what’s right.”

The council voted 4-0, with Councilman Dean Burrell absent, to have town staff pursue extending the market. Staff said they would confer with the police chief regarding the proposal.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.