As you drive into Fort Dodge you probably have noticed the new banners hanging from our bridges and along Fifth Avenue South announcing the 2012 Market on Central season. This year you will be able to enjoy the Market on the second and fourth Saturdays from June to September.
For a few hours each Market on Central, our Historic Downtown is transformed into a mini village of vendors from across the state. There you will find farmfresh produce, eggs, honey, freshly baked items, meat vendors selling beef to bison and more, jams and jellies, wine from a local vineyard, cheesecake, various jewelry, unique photography, clay pottery, gourmet imported chocolates, handmade wooden flutes and bowls, popcorn, stained glass, wooden barn quilts, bows and tutus, cotton candy, breakfast and lunch vendors, rag rugs, hostas and perennials - and the list goes on and on.
This year as you enter the Market you will be greeted by our Market Ambassadors representing various organizations in our community. Once you enter our special village, you will find each Market on Central is centered on a theme that will highlight our entertainment and activities. Our first theme for the Market this coming Saturday is Historical Downtown. The events for the morning will include a ribbon cutting and community leaders sounding the horn to announce the start of our season. Horse-drawn carriage rides sponsored by the Historical Preservation Commission and the Smiley Face Train rides will entertain the entire family. Don't be surprised when you see history come alive with the Oakland Cemetery re-enactors strolling Central Avenue and telling you their stories about their lives and contributions to our community. You will be able to belt out a tune with our karaoke and practice your putt at the mini golf. A must is a stop to visit our Fort Dodge Fire Department and admire Old Glory flying high from the snorkel truck.
Other themes for the 2012 Market on Central season include the 80th Blanden Museum Birthday Celebration, Fun at the County Fair, Multi-Cultural Celebration, National Farmers Market Week, Summer Adventures, Bounce Back to the Library and finally our Ice Cream Cone Day. Visit our website at www.fdmarketoncentral.com to see our calendar of events and activities.
You will also find that many of our themes for Market on Central are built around community events and activities that you can participate in after your visit to the Market. The 80th Blanden Museum Birthday Celebration is a great example and you will also find the DART bus available to shuttle you to and from Market on Central to the Blanden on June 23.
The Webster County Fair, Dragon Boat Races, Blues Under The Trees and Webster County Adventure Races are also community events that you will find included in our calendar as other attractions for you during your visit to Market on Central and Fort Dodge. How about a trip to the Rosedale Aquatic Center and some shopping in our Crossroads Mall and other retail stores in the area to add to your day? If we wear you out with all the things to do, there are motel rooms waiting for you to spend the night and start all over again the next day.
We have also added a variety of contests for you to enter during the Market season. Our Pie Baking Contest is a great way to showcase your blue ribbon pies and a chance to win a stove as our grand prize. There will also be a Grape Stomping Contest, Corn Shucking Contest and a Photography Contest of photos taken of Market on Central.
Our Market on Central is much more than just a great place for your family and to pick up fresh produce and unique homemade items. It is also a revitalization of our Historic Downtown that shows how community support and creativity can reinvent the area and bring it back to life. Re-introducing Central Avenue to many who have not strolled the streets for years and opening up the possibilities of new specialty shops and services is all part of the revitalization plan. Over the last year we have seen several new businesses open downtown with a wide variety of services that include home interiors, clothing and jewelry, quilts and antiques. You will want to be sure to stop by to acquaint yourselves to these new businesses while you are at Market on Central.
The Market also functions as a small business incubator providing the opportunity for a new entrepreneur to market ideas and products to our visitors. They learn how to display and promote their products, network with other vendors and listen to comments and suggestions from customers. Many of our vendors from last year will tell you that it jump-started their business for the entire year and many hired part-time and full-time staff to handle the increase in business.
Market on Central does not just happen. It has been organized and nurtured by a very dedicated committee of volunteers meeting weekly for the last two years and community support and sponsorship. The success of Market on Central shows the benefits of collaboration and cooperation of businesses, the community and community leaders. In just our second year, Market on Central has more than doubled its size and established itself as a family event and tourist destination. Our website lists sponsors and supporters that have helped to make this possible.
We invite you to visit our Historic Downtown and enjoy Iowa-grown and produced food and products along with a variety of entertainment that will add to your pleasure and enjoyment of Market on Central. Bring the entire family and join us for an enjoyable Saturday morning. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday and June 23, July 14 and 28, Aug. 11 and 25 and Sept. 8 and 22. We are looking forward to seeing you at Fort Dodge's newest tradition - Market on Central.
Cheryl O'Hern chairs the Market on Central Committee.