For nine years, the Auburn International Farmers Market did its thing at the Sound Transit Plaza in downtown Auburn.
But when the market opens for its 11th season at 10 a.m. on Sunday, it’ll be on digs as fresh as its fruits and veggies, at the former Big Daddy’s site in Les Gove Park off Auburn Way South. From 9 to 11:30 a.m., the Kiwanis Club of Auburn will sell breakfast and lunch.
Thenceforward, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday through the end of September, the market promises not only the same 40, cream-of-the-crop vendors and the same, easy access to local, farm-fresh products and hand-crafted items but access also to those awesome, restaurant-based concession stands with their promise of home-cooked tastes. There’ll be free performances, guest chef demonstrations with farm-fresh ingredients, children’s activities, and classes on health, nutrition and gardening.
The market is making the move to Les Gove Park to avoid potential traffic difficulties and construction barriers related to plans for construction of two large, mixed-used buildings on two lots east of the plaza. Market officials add that sales and customers have fallen off the last few seasons, and the Les Gove site not only allows for more vendors but also offers ample parking for patrons and vendors.
Among other attractions at the park are a new restroom building, a kids play area and the popular Spray Playground, which opens Saturday.
“Our hope is to both grow the market so the farmers can create more revenue and give them a larger audience share,” said Daryl Faber, director of the Auburn Parks, Arts & Recreation Department. “We know that about 300 cars a day drive by the current site, and about 20,000 go by the other site. So we are hoping with visibility, and with all the other activities happening at Les Gove Park, such as the Spray Park and museum, it’s just a better site.
“We are also bringing into play there the former Herr, Big Daddy site, which we think will have more visibility, and work out perfectly for the market and some summer activities we are going to be doing at that site,” Faber added.
Watch for special events throughout the season like Kids Day, Dog Days of Summer, and the popular annual Chili Cook-Off between the Auburn Police Department and the Valley Regional Fire Authority. The market will continue to accept EBT and match EBT funds with Fresh Bucks.
As exciting as that news is, visitors to the farmers market will realize right away that the park is a busy, busy place these days.
First, because of the ongoing, on-ground realization of the Les Gove Park Master plan.
Parks staff has worked with Berger Partnership Landscape Architects and KPFF Consulting Engineers to design the Lighted Crescent and Plaza Area project, which includes a 600-foot-long section of concrete trail between the Auburn Community & Event Center and the Auburn Library with trail lighting, and emergency phones equipped with security cameras for safety.
The plaza area element of the project aims to transform the recently-closed-off section of Deals Way into a plaza for special events and impromptu gatherings. Later this summer, it will add benches and a community porch next to the spray playground, and the Les Gove Building will re-open as a rental option for the community on Friday, June 8.
The other project at Les Gove Park is a new Veterans Memorial. The American-Vietnamese War Memorial Alliance has been raising funds for a Veterans Memorial for the past several years. The Auburn City Council approved placement of the memorial in 2015. Construction started in March and Alliance will dedicate the memorial on Saturday, June 16.
For details, visit honorvietnamvets.org.