Dunkirk Farmers Market off to slow start

It’s still a work in progress for the Dunkirk Farmers and Artisans Market. The market, operated under the auspices the Dunkirk Community Chamber, the Chautauqua County Chamber and the Community Chamber Development Corp. in cooperation with the city of Dunkirk, is in its first season at Memorial Park.

The market was a subject of discussion for the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation Board of Directors at a meeting Wednesday. The board was considering a resolution to provide the Chamber with $500 to go for market advertising. Development Department Director Steve Neratko told the board why the money would be helpful.

“They’re having some issues in marketing and promotion of the event. We really want to make sure this moves forward and that we have a farmers market going forward, so we’re just looking to give them $500 to assist with the marketing and promotion and the costs of the market,” Neratko explained.

Currently, there are three to five vendors so far and one farmer at the market. Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak said the market is getting better known.

“They’re all in agreement that it’s becoming more well known and (Chamber Director of Member Development Greg Krauza) has admitted to the mistake of thinking that all we have to do is get the market going and people will come, and didn’t put a lot of forethought into how much advertising needs to be done to really make the public aware,” she stated.

Board member Joe Becerra asked why the Chamber isn’t paying for the advertising.

Kiyak said a huge banner will be going up at a cost of $1,000 to the Chamber, which is also advertising in the local media.

Becerra said he goes to the Fredonia market weekly and would love to see something develop in Dunkirk. Kiyak replied that the Chamber has tried.

“I can honestly say that the Chamber has done their due diligence in agreeing to take over the farmers market,” she added. “What it says about our local community is that they want to be at a thriving farmers market and they don’t want to be at a beginning farmers market because it takes a lot of investment.”

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the city tried last year to run a market but had no success before the Chamber stepped in.

“I think they’ve done a great job in making the effort, trying to grow it from one vendor,” Dolce added. “They actually had better luck last year in the parking lot because they got more foot traffic from this area. … It was doing pretty good.”

Dolce was referring to the Lark Street site the market operated from in 2012 between August and October after opening there the first week of August. The current Memorial Park location was cited for its beauty.

Neratko said farmers markets bring in produce from outside of the area in the off seasons and the Dunkirk model was to feature locally grown produce.

“One of the issues when you do that is there is only so much that is available in June and July for local produce. My hope is that as the season goes on it will get better and better and next year we’ll have a much better beginning as well,” he added. “One of the issues is they need some assistance in the marketing and promotion. The city has been acting as a partner in this and I think it would be a good thing to help out. Another way to help out the community and just try to get this farmers market to take the next step.”

Dolce said the fear was going back to one vendor on Third Street, referring to the former location under a pavilion at the corner of Park Avenue and Third Street.

When asked later, Krauza said work on EBT issues is continuing and credit cards cannot be used at this time either.

“We’re working on that paperwork. We anticipate it, we thought we’d have it a couple weeks ago,” he added. “Right now what we’re doing is Chamber Bucks. We’re allowing anyone who has Chamber checks, you can use those at the market.”

The market is open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to serve the public.

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