Winter Farmers Market offers warm opportunity for local vendors
- NICKI KOHL Telegraph Herald
- Jan 9, 2021
With the Dubuque Winter Farmer’s Market in full swing on Saturday, shoppers browsed more than 30 vendors offering locally-produced products.
A third of the way through its 14th season, coordinator Paula Connors said the market’s new location in Kennedy Mall has offered shoppers the ability to shop at a local farmer’s market throughout the year, and also gives vendors an extended sales period.
“A lot of our vendors also sell at the summer market and at the Millwork night market,” she said. “We also have vendors who don’t sell at the summer market because of what they sell. Chocolate, for instance, doesn’t do well in the heat. It’s nice to give them a chance to sell at another market.”
Connors is one of a group of volunteers who run the market with help from Dubuque’s Four Mounds Foundation.
Deb Zenner, of Timber Range Farm in Durango, Iowa, has been selling her honey and honey-related products at the winter market for three years. She also sells at the Dyersville Farmers Market and at the Thursday night Millwork Market.
“Parking is much more convenient here,” she said. “And people who may not do well in the summer heat appreciate being able to shop indoors.”
Dawn McCoy and her 12-year-old daughter Hannah, of Dubuque, were loading up on cupcakes at Nikki Steffen’s Koppes Creations.
“All summer long, I check where she’s going to be,” said McCoy. “When I saw this week on her Facebook page that she was going to be here, I told Hannah, ‘We have to go.’”
Steffen, who owns Koppes Creations, said she is able to also sell at Dubuque’s summer market, thanks to an air-conditioned van that keeps her cupcakes, cookies and cakes cool.
“I’m often busy during the summer with weddings,” she said. “But I do the summer market and the Millwork night market when I can. I also do pop-up events at campgrounds and social events like Asbury in the Park.”
The Whoo Chocolate Company is an example of a vendor whose product is perfect for the controlled climate of the winter market.
Ann Ginter, mother of chocolatier and owner Melissa Ettleman, was overseeing the booth selling Melissa’s creations.
“Melissa ran the Kandy Kitchen (in Galena, Ill.) for 16 years,” said Ginter. “Now she drives for UPS, and when she’s not doing that she’s making chocolate. And she’s really good at it.”
Shoppers also browsed not one, but two local wineries.
Oh So Good Winery, of Dyersville, Iowa, made their debut at the market this year, while Tabor Home Vineyard and Winery, of Baldwin, Iowa, is a veteran vendor.
“We are the oldest winery in the state,” said Paul Tabor, who founded Tabor Home with his wife, Martha, and father, Jack, on family land in 1989.
“My dad passed 10 years ago, but he was a major influence in helping us get started,” said Tabor. “He’s the one who said ‘Yeah, go ahead and do this.’”
Tabor and his wife, along with another employee, are regulars on the Farmer’s Market circuit, particularly in the summer.
Every Saturday, we’re doing three markets,” he said.
Five-year-old winery Oh So Good doesn’t have its own vineyards, but Eric Anderson and Emily Deutmeyer, who were working the vendor booth at the market, said that doesn’t stop owners Lee and Karie Ostwinkle from making great wine.
“They buy the best grapes from all over,” said Anderson.
“It’s our first year for the winter market,” said Deutmeyer. “But we have been doing the summer market in Dubuque, and the Dyersville Farmers Market for a while.”
Business has slowed at the winter market this year, said Connors, a trend she attributes to COVID-19, but Ann Ginter enjoys coming out every Saturday to help support her daughter’s business, despite the drop in shoppers.
“I’m retired, so it’s good for me,” she said.
The Dubuque Winter Farmer’s Market is held at Kennedy Mall every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon through April 24. Shoppers can enter outside through the entrance next to Planet Fitness, or inside at the west concourse, next to Shoe Carnival.