Trundling past its first hiccup of the new season, the Payson Farmers Market bustled last Saturday with shoppers, vendors, music and tiny ponies.
“Our largest farmer canceled today because of a death in the family,” said Lorian Roethlein. “He takes up three stalls.”
Usually Lorian and her husband, John, would have to handle the issue by themselves, but their partnership with Katie and Joe Klein has allowed them to relax.
“It feels like we’ve left our child in the hands of a really good babysitter,” said John. Despite the significant cancellation, the Roethleins had time to head home after setup to get their bikes and ride to the market.
The Kleins stayed and moved vendors around to make the market look full, despite the hole left by the cancellation. No one could tell the difference.
Katie has diversified and added merchants to the market mix. More farmers have set up shop allowing visitors more options for fresh veggies and fruits. This week, a vendor sells olive oils, another has canned veggies, across the way hummus and dips are offered, and a divine café with healthy salads and crème Brule. Some of these sellers come every week, some come only during the holidays, and others rotate into the mix on a regular basis.
For the sweet tooth, Katie’s mother makes jams with a pepper kick, three bakeries offer some of the best baked goods around, a gluten-free Italian foods stall and Scoop’s ice cream allow shoppers immediate refreshment to go along with their purchase of veggies. Each week, a different body care and Rim Country artist rotates into the mix.
The market always changes, but runs smoothly — especially with the addition of Katie.
Her specialty is organization. Katie used to work for Starbucks training employees all over the west. The way the market hums shows off her talent.
Yet it takes a firm hand.
“I’ve had numerous artists from the Valley apply to sell at the Market, but I have to say ‘no,’” said Katie.
A policy of the Payson Farmers Market is to only allow Rim Country artists to sell their merchandise. Phoenix farmers market vendors have started looking to Payson because the hot weather in the Valley has affected sales — no one wants to go outside to shop.
Not so in Payson. Walking the length of the market, the Kleins and Roethleins constantly stop to say hello to friends. Groups of locals cluster about the place. The atmosphere feels festive.
With the water table and pony rides, Katie has turned the Payson Farmers Market into a truly family affair. As a mom, she wanted to make sure other parents had plenty for the children to do.
The water table sits near the stage with covered seating for adults nearby. Children bunch around the table eager to get their hands in the water and play at pouring it into different containers.
“The water table has had a learning curve,” said John. This is the first year for this experiment. Last week, the Roethleins and Kleins added chalk to the mix. They quickly discovered the kids made colored mud.
“We won’t add chalk to the water table again,” said John.
At the back of the market, tiny ponies with miniature saddles take kids on a ride. Music constantly floats through the crowd adding a pleasant background to the shopping. Each week, the Payson Farmers Market has a new musical artist.
“I try to come here every week to see what’s new,” said local Linda Teasley.