Interview with Virginia Filicetti of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.
JON: What were the challenges in bringing the farmers market back during a somewhat post pandemic environment, and how important is it for a place like DeKalb to have a farmers’ market?
VIRGINIA: We had a learning curve while hosting the DeKalb Farmers’ Market in 2020 and have continued to keep some of those practices in place. Staff and vendors are more diligent about sanitizing high-touch surfaces and hands to keep customers safe. Vendors have also become more comfortable staying home if they don’t feel well, instead of attending the market anyway.
The DeKalb Farmers’ Market is an important community staple for fresh foods. The market accepts Link, giving all families access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. We also offer the Link Match program, where we match Link purchases up to $25. Families can get $50 worth of produce for just $25! We are the only market in the county that offers this program and are fortunate to see how important it is for families.
J: How does the Chamber go about bringing in vendors for the farmers market or artists, and if people wish to be involved what steps can they take?
V: We invite previous vendors back to the market and call out for new vendors largely on social media. Many of our vendors heard about the market by other vendors, so word of mouth has helped our market grow.
If anyone is interested in becoming a vendor for the market, there is a vendor interest form at dekalb.org/farmersmarket. Once they fill out the form, they are sent a vendor application. We accept vendors on a rolling basis throughout the season as space allows.
J: What does the farmers market look like now compared to how it looked like before the pandemic, and are there any plans to grow the farmers market in the future?
V: The DeKalb Farmers’ Market has grown in recent years. The importance of supporting local growers and business is more top of mind than ever, creating more interested vendors and number of customers.
We are always looking for ways to improve the market in the future, whether that means recruiting more vendors or adding interactive activities. The market started in 1995 and we plan to continue the tradition!
J: Was having something like the Egyptian Theatre right next door to the market a part of the decision when locating the market? And have the renovations to the Egyptian played a role in the way people might experience the market, both with the live music and another place for families to look at?
V: The Egyptian Theatre is a key figure of Downtown DeKalb and is a great backdrop to the market. Frank Van Buer Plaza across from the Egyptian Theatre is also a flat, brick surface suitable for vendors and pedestrians. Many customers have commented on the new addition of the Egyptian Theatre. We always encourage them to take a visit inside or go see a show! We not only promote our vendors at the market, but everything Downtown DeKalb has to offer.
We’re extremely thankful for the Egyptian Theatre’s open doors and partnership for the Live Lunch Music Series. The market wouldn’t be the same without it!