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Altoona's River Prairie development keeps growing with addition of farmers market

Monday, July 23, 2018
Julian Emerson | Leader-Telegram

ALTOONA - Some attendees of Monday's River Prairie farmers market were most excited about buying fresh vegetables. 

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Others enjoyed purchasing items from food trucks at the site on Altoona's northwest side, while still others enjoyed taste-testing differed types of honey. 

For 7-year-old Brooklyn Hayden, a flavored ice drink was the highlight of the farmers market, the first-ever such event at the River Prairie development. 

"I like the way it tastes when you mix the flavors together," Brooklyn said as she pointed to her multicolored treat. 

Brooklyn and her family were among those attending the inaugural event that featured a handful of vendors, including several food trucks. Brooklyn's father, Altoona resident Shannon Hayden, said he was impressed by the market. 

"I think it's good for their first time having it here," he said when asked about the size of the crowd at the market. "They're starting small, and hopefully it builds from here."

As a guitarist sang nearby, Altoona city Administrator Mike Golat chatted with one attendee after another, thanking them for coming to the market. He said the event will attract morevendors and patrons with time, and he was impressed by how many turned out for the initial event. 

"It seems to be well received," he said when asked about reactions to the market. 

Tammy and Larry Larson agreed. The Eau Claire couple said they heard about the new market and decided to check it out. 

"There's a good crowd here for the first time," Larry Larson said. "They have some good food here too."

Tammy Larson said the scenic site, bordered on one side by trees and the Eau Claire River, is an attractive setting that should draw more people to the market. She and her husband made their way to the market after bringing their two young children, Devin and Carla, to the park to play in a man-made waterway. 

"There are people here with their kids enjoying this space, and I think this market will attract a lot of them," she said. 

Laura Knitter and her husband, Brian, showed up Monday afternoon to check out the market, and when they learned more vendors were needed, they returned to their Chippewa County town of Lafayette property and returned with various types of honey they sell under the name B's Bees.

The couple also sell their honey at farmers markets in Eau Claire and Menomonie.  

"We weren't planning on doing this today, but we're glad to be here," Laura Knitter said. "You do what you gotta do to make something like this market work."

Golat said he hopes that spirit helps build the River Prairie farmers market. A market had been planned at the site for some time, he said, and he is optimistic it will grow as this year progresses. 

"We're happy with this for a first event, and it's just going to get bigger from here," he said.  

Contact: 715-830-5911,julian.emerson@ecpc.com 

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