More than 50 vendors, visitors and customers of the Saturday Farmers and Artisans Market at the Port of Brookings Harbor have signed a petition in support of keeping the event just the way it is.
The petition was drawn up by Mike Edwards, who heard that entertainment promoter Bruce Ellis wanted to start a new farmers market, calling the existing one dull and tired. Ellis, the producer of the Pirates of the Pacific Festival, submitted an application to the port last month requesting to form a farmers market of his own.
The issue will be discussed at the port’s regular meeting in January, when all annual contracts are negotiated.
Vi and Len Burton, the managers of the popular event on the boardwalk, recently announced they were stepping down and handing the operations over to Tina and Dale Kirkpatrick of Brookings.
“People are a little concerned about the changes he might make,” said Robin Clyde of Harbor, a vendor who makes centerpieces from driftwood. “I enjoy the pirate festival, but it’s a whole different atmosphere.
“Personally, I’d rather have a quieter, friendlier event rather than entertainment. Entertainment is great for what it is, but it’s not what the market is all about.”
All vendors contacted said they were pleased the Kirkpatricks will be taking over the market.
“The vendors there highly respect Vi and Len’s choice (of the Kirkpatricks),” said Judy Bowker, a Harbor photographer who sells her work at the market. “I’m grateful a vendor stepped forward to take over. I think they’re very capable people.”
She acknowledged that management changes can result in other changes, but she only sees such change as beneficial to the market under the Kirkpatricks’ lead.
“I’m looking forward to next year,” Bowker said. “It’s been a very successful market.”
John Marshall, a musician with Spectrum Sounds, said he signed the petition because he was concerned about the potential closing of both the farmers market and the Second Saturday Art Walk, which also is being rejuvenated with new leadership.
“I was a little perturbed by his (Ellis’) attitude of knocking the existing farmers market, the music, things sounding dull, he could do a better job,” he said. “I know the work that goes into it (the market). His comments upset me. … Come in and do a better job. … I don’t know if you can or can’t. I do know people in the farmers market deserve to continue.”
Ellis said part of the reason he is pursuing the market idea – either taking it over or creating a new, separate one, he doesn’t know – is because the market and festivals often conflict on busy weekends.
“If they listen to what I say, everyone will be in favor, everyone will be happy,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Bruce is a real go-getter,” said Jane Turner, who ,with her husband, Ernie, make custom wood signs and fudge. “I don’t want to say he wouldn’t do a good job, but if the port took it over, they could raise the price and kind of blow us away.”
She likes that the farmers market is low-key, clean, well-presented and of high quality.
“People love to come here,” Turner said. “It’s not a flea market. It’s a good community thing. I think it has blessed the port.”