Dining With Denise Neil

New managers harvesting fresh ideas for Old Town Farmers Market

The Old Town Farmers Market, which operates Saturday mornings May through October, will get new managers next year.
The Old Town Farmers Market, which operates Saturday mornings May through October, will get new managers next year. File photo

The Old Town Farmers Market is getting new managers, who say they hope to give it a younger vibe and fill it with more farmers.

Luke and Amy Snow, who own FarmShop at 1136 N. Bitting in Riverside, agreed to take over management of the market from Pat Randleas, who has run it since 2004. The couple, whose business sells gardening and landscape decor and focuses on organic gardening, will be in charge when the 2017 market starts in May.

“We’re just excited for the opportunity,” said Luke Snow, whose store opened this summer. “We’re looking to do what we can to help revitalize the market, and we’re anxious to work with the Old Town Association and Downtown Development and see what we can really do to ramp that thing up and get it moving.”

Randleas, who manages the market for the Wichita Farmers Market Vendors Association, an LLC that took over running the market in 2004, said she was stepping down to spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren. For 12 years, she has organized the market’s vendors, musicians and entertainment during its May-to-October season.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, and I’m just ready to devote more time back to my family again,” she said.

Luke Snow said his passion is local food and farmers, and he’s been focused on farmers markets for years. He’s heard criticism in recent years that the Old Town market had become too heavy on craft vendors and too light on farmers and vegetables, he said, and that’s something he wants to examine.

“If there’s one thing everybody in this city knows, it’s that downtown needs more food, and we will certainly be focused on that,” he said.

Snow said he likes the way the market is scheduled and doesn’t want to make huge changes, but he is thinking about ways to infuse it with new life.

“We’ve got some ideas, but if there’s one thing we are certain we want to do, it’s to really maintain that positive, friendly environment,” he said. “We certainly are not looking to come in and shake it up and change it. But we will do what we can to bring some younger, vibrant life to it.”

The Snows’ managing of the market will be separate from their business, Luke Snow said.

Randleas said she has loved her relationships with the vendors at the market and has had fun developing popular events such as the annual Iron Chef competition, which happens again on Saturday.

But she thinks the market will benefit from new blood.

“I think he’s going to be the perfect fit,” she said of Luke Snow. “It will be nice to get some new perspectives on it.”

Randleas will continue to manage this year’s market, which operates from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through Oct. 15. The 2017 season will start on the first Saturday in May.

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil