Madison has all sorts of fantastic farmers markets that Madisonians flock to in the summer, but for those who want to try something new, the Farmers and Artisans River Market in nearby Marshall has launched and plans to grow by emphasizing the diversity of its vendors.
“This market is really about community. It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and to connect,” says Becky Armstrong, manager of the Farmers and Artisans River Market. “There’s the famous saying that, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ It takes a village period to raise anything. And we are a village and we’re a very close-knit village.
“I always wanted the market to be a place for people to come and hang out with friends and have fun but also to be able to meet all of these people in this small community doing amazing things,” she adds.
Local farmers, bakers, chefs, artists, craftspeople, and entertainers converge at the Farmers and Artisan River Market, located near the shores of the Marshall Millpond, every Sunday. For a town of slightly less than 4,000 people, the market brings diversity.
“We have three vendors who are Latinas, and two African American vendors and a Vietnamese vendor,” Armstrong says. “I went around to different markets and realized there are like no markets who have Black, Hispanic, veteran, disabled or LGBTQ vendors like this one.”
Ruthie’s Comfort Food, founded in 2017 by Ruth Allen, has been a staple in Madison the last couple of years at various markets and events. The business has also found a nice home in the Farmers and Artisans River Market in Marshall.
“The new location at Fireman’s Park is great. It’s very open and serene and there’s plenty of room for everyone including the customers and vendors,” Allen tells Madison365. “The vendors are a family…we fully support each other and strive to bring that feeling to our customers as well. It’s just an awesome atmosphere.”
Ruthie’s will be at the Farmers and Artisans River Market this Sunday with menu items that include Chicago Dogs, MadTown Dogs, and Mini Italian Beefs.
Many Madisonian know Tomy Tepepa as the former longtime career pathways specialist for Centro Hispano of Dane County. Not everybody knows that she and her daughter, Mayra, are artists who make handmade crafts through their business, Nuestra Cultura Crafts. Their work has been on display at the Latino Art Fair, pop-up events through Dane Arts, and at the Midwest Mujeres table on the Art Fair on the Sqaure. They are also regulars at the Farmers and Artisans River Market.
“When I got sick and had to leave Centro, I had to find ways to make income so I started working with fabrics, particularly Day of the Dead fabrics,” Tepepa tells Madison365. “From there, I just started working with like terracotta planters and acrylic paints and then making earrings and I make the Mexican Bingo Loteria earrings and planters. I started with those and then started selling the Mexican Loteria coasters, too. From there, my business just grew and I’ve just been adding more stuff to target the Latino community.
“Becky [Armstrong] has been a big help for us. She has given us a lot of tips. The location has been amazing for us. It’s so beautiful,” she adds.
There is a significant Latino population out in Marshall but it is a bit hidden, Tepepa adds. “We need the funds to be able to reach out to them, maybe through La Movida [24/7 radio station]. We want the Latino community out there to know that there are Latino vendors and we have great crafts and products.”
While many Farmers Markets just have produce, Armstrong says that she loves that her market has included the arts and crafts, too.
“I love craft vendors and they bring in a very unique group of people down to the market,” she says. “Tomy [Tepepa] has her different Mexican based crafts and her daughter does the creations with deities where she’s got the different jewelry based. I have lots of absolutely amazing vendors who come in who have some of the most gorgeous woodworking things that I’ve ever seen made before. They are so very creative and talented.”
Marshall is about 18 minutes from Madison’s east side. The address for the Farmers and Artisans River Market is 309 Park Street.
“Fireman’s Park in Marshall is a little hard to find … It’s not like directly on the main route. But their signs pointing to where we are,” Armstrong says.
“But there’s so many things to do. We picked Fireman’s Park because it’s such a beautiful location. It’s where the farmers market had originally started,” she continues. “When you come to ours, there’s always a baseball game going on during the month of July, so you can sit there and watch the semi-pro baseball. There’s a great big playground there for the kids. There’s fishing. There’s kayaking. So there’s lots of other things for you to do other than just visit the market.”
And there is still plenty of time to catch a Farmers and Artisans River Market because they are running through autumn.
“The market will run definitely through Oct. 22. And then it will restart in November with a winter market that’ll run in November and December,” Armstrong says. “There won’t be one in January but if things go the way I want them to, there should be one in February, one in March, two in April and then May restarts the actual market season.”
The Farmers and Artisans River Market is held every Sunday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Fireman’s Park, 309 Park Street in the Village of Marshall.