RO Farmers Market season begins

The Red Oak Farmers Market is gearing up for another exciting season.
Maggie McQuown, the retiring manager of the Red Oak Farmers Market (ROFM) shared some of the details. McQuown said this year the market will be starting two weeks earlier, with the first market of the season scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2.
“We decided to start earlier because the vendors felt with the mild winter and nice spring that they would be ready earlier, so we’ll kick off May 2 and have a second market on Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to noon,” McQuown said. “The first week will be a soft opening. We’re not sure exactly how many vendors or how much produce will be available, but we’re definitely going to be there.”
Markets will continue every Thursday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon through Oct. 26, aside from a handful of specific dates due to conflicts. There will be no market on Saturday, June 29, due to the Junction Days parade; Thursday, July 4 due to the Independence Day holiday; Thursday, July 18 and Saturday, July 20, due to the Montgomery County Fair; and finally, Saturday, Aug. 17 due to the Classy Chassis Car Show.
McQuown issued a reminder that all the markets will be held at Fountain Square Park, with no additional markets.
“We’ve always had the Thursday and Saturday markets at Fountain Square Park. We used to do markets at Montgomery County Memorial Hospital, but this year Live Well Montgomery County will hold its own farmers market on selected dates throughout the summer.”
McQuown said farmers markets will take a hiatus from hosting “Lettuce Entertain U” the Thursday of Junction Days. McQuown said there were a couple of reasons for the change.
“With RAGBRAI having an overnight stop in July in Red Oak, we weren’t sure we could get enough volunteers. A lot of people will be focused and busy getting ready for RAGBRAI. The other reason is because this year, the farmers market will have a new manager. As soon as we have the new manager hiring finalized, we will make a big announcement and introduce the manager to everyone. We are hopeful and excited that we can bring this person on board and provide great leadership to further grow our fantastic Red Oak Farmers Market,” McQuown stated.
While “Lettuce Entertain U” may be on hiatus, McQuown said there will be visits from guest food trucks and live entertainment.
“We’ve already booked the Teeny Weeny Wiener Wagon roughly the first Thursday of each month starting on May 2. Also, Gena’s Kitchen will be there May 9 and May 30. As for entertainment, we haven’t booked any music yet as I’m looking to collaborate with the new manager for performers for some of the markets,” advised McQuown.
McQuown said the ROFM hopes to continue the Kidz Korner and other youth activities. Again, this will be a decision made by the new manager.
“The new manager is very interested in having kids activities. I’ve been in contact with the Red Oak Public Library on possible events, such as story time. We haven’t finalized anything yet, but all parties are interested in a collaboration if we can get things worked out,” McQuown said.
The farmers market will have some new features available as it begins its new season.
“Red Oak Community Heart & Soul will have an informational table at some of the markets. Also, Iowa has passed some new laws that opens up the ability for vendors to sell more things such as fermented products,” McQuown explained. “In the past, they’ve been limited to produce, baked items, jams, or jellies. Now if someone makes a pickled or fermented product, and if they have a license to do so, they can sell that at the market too. I’m sure we’ll be seeing some new products this year. We have new flag banners, replacing the old ones that were a little worn, and the dates and times of the market will be posted on the Rotary Club sign at the intersection of Coolbaugh and Broadway.”
McQuown said there are a number of things she’s looking forward to with the return of the Red Oak Farmers Market.
“We love to have the interaction and activity in Fountain Square Park. It’s a great way for vendors to get to know the people of Red Oak and serve them. The heart of the farmers market is the community. Red Oak residents and others come down to shop, and then they stay and talked with friends,” McQuown commented. “It’s a fun time to mingle, and chat, and catch up with people. Also, the location is convenient for people to shop the stores on the Square during both markets.”
Registration is required to participate in the market. While pre-registration is preferred, vendors can arrive at Fountain Square Park and register then.
“Our guidelines and the application form are on the website,, or on the Facebook page at If they want to just show up, we’ll have application forms available that they can fill out and pay the fee,” McQuown said.
Fees are split up in three ways, full season, half season, or single session.
“A full-season membership for vendors is $60, a half-season membership is $30, and if they set up for one session, the cost is $10. It’s important to note that if someone sets up individually for three sessions, they automatically become a half-season member, and if they set up six times, they’re a full member,” McQuown advised. “We do the single-session pricing for people that have never done a farmers market before to try it with no-risk. If they keep coming back, the fee accumulates until they become a half or full member.”
McQuown said she’s taking a step back from the markets due to activities at the farm, but plans to take part on occasion.
“Steve Turman and I have a lot going on at the farm. We are planning to operate a booth and sell on occasion because we certainly love supporting the market. I will also be involved in mentoring our new manager, and helping with promotion and sponsorship efforts,” McQuown stated. “Steve is going to continue as the ROFM treasurer as well.”
McQuown also wanted to give a special mention to the Center For Rural Affairs for all of its support.
“They have been very supportive of our market and all of the local food efforts in Southwest Iowa. They have awarded us a couple of grants that are helping us hire and pay this new manager,” McQuown commented.
For additional information, visit, or

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here