Richland farmers' market in jeopardy

RICHLAND, Wash. -- KEPR has learned the fate of the Richland Farmers' Market in the Parkway is really up in the air. Some local business owners don't like the stands tying up the Parkway on Fridays. Soon it will be put to a vote.

Brenda Hail didn't have a problem with the Richland Farmers' Market until three years ago.

"The fact is, it's too big for this area," said local business owner, Hail.

She runs Good Samaritan Ministries, in the Richland Parkway. The same stretch of land that's seen farmers' market vendors more than double to 60 booths. The market fills the Parkway for most Fridays out of the year. Nearly 100,000 people visited the Richland Farmers' Market this season.

"When we come here we have business and we expect people to get to our door and they are not able to," said Hail.

Market organizer John Erben has been thrilled with the growth.

"It's done what we hoped it would," said market organizer, John Erben.

John tells me that the market has had opposition in years past, but this is the loudest. The issue will be put to a vote before business owners in the Parkway. Richland officials tell me that if enough businesses vote to have the market removed, there is a very real possibility the city won't see it again.

"If there is no market in the Parkway, our organization would not move to another location," said Erben.

The owners of Frost Me Sweet are very concerned about the loss of the market. It's why they started a Facebook page, "Save the Richland Parkway Farmer's Market."

"It's not that I want it to disappear, I just want it to be in a place that can be big enough for it," said Hail.

Organizers are making plans to alleviate the traffic concerns. A bus could shuttle visitors to parking lots off-site. But first, the business owners and then Richland city leaders will decide what's to come of the Farmers' Market.

"We think it would be quite a loss, this is one of the premier events the city has," said Erben.

The issue will be brought to Richland City Council next month. Surveys will be sent out to all the businesses to gauge interest with the final decision resulting in the city's hands.