Kootenai County Farmers Markets’ Wednesday market has a new home—in Riverstone
By Jillian Chandler
After 17 years setting up their seasonal farmers market on Fifth Street between Lakeside Avenue and Front Street in downtown Coeur d’Alene, the Kootenai County Farmers Markets (KCFM) Wednesday market—proudly a producer-only market—is settling in nicely to its new home. After months of researching the perfect place to host their Wednesday market in which they could remain a producer-only market, they said yes to an incredible location accessible via biking, walking and bus, with access to power, water and bathrooms, and lots of free parking.
“Cheryl Klein from Riverstone has been amazing to work alongside with. We made calls and site visits to over 20 locations throughout Kootenai County. We wanted to offer the Board as many viable options as we could. It was a large list of options but ultimately, at the end, Riverstone was the location that was ideally situated that met our needs—and it really has,” says Natalie Selbe, KCFM market manager.
“Working with their team was just a dream and so easy to work with. They wanted us, and that was our first and most important deciding factor. There were many locations that wanted us, but this marked all the checkboxes on the request list, plus it is just 3 miles from our prior location. We wanted to make sure our customers who walked and biked to us downtown still had that opportunity.”
Another noticeable perk for those driving to the market is all of the free parking Riverstone provides, plus the two-story parking structure behind Main Street. Then there is the benefit of the beautiful, clean, heated bathrooms, “a 1,000 percent improvement from the port-a-potties we had in the past,” Natalie laughs.
The market made its 2023 season debut on May 17, and as Natalie smiles, “We couldn’t have found the more perfect location. It was the largest Wednesday attendance in the history of the market in both customers and vendors; beyond our wildest dreams.” Room for growth was high on the list when searching for the ideal spot for the market, as Natalie shares that they have had so many new vendor requests, she foresees the size of the Wednesday market doubling in size in the coming future.
The Wednesday market currently has 80 vendors, whereas the Saturday market in Hayden has 120. “I would expect Wednesday’s market to match that 120 vendors sometime during the 2023 season,” she adds.
Visitors to the market will be treated to an incredible variety of vendors showcasing their amazing products—grown from the ground or handcrafted; every single item sold at Kootenai County Farmers Markets is made/grown by the person selling it to you. “You have a question about the product? The person standing in front of you at the market can tell you everything about it. That is so unique and rare,” notes Natalie.
Fresh fruits and veggies that are grown in season, honey, meat (beef, pork, bison, chicken, eggs), jewelry, sewn items, wood-turned art, tinctures/medicinal products, dog-related products, and delicious baked goods, in addition to an amazing food court, and more, can be found at the Wednesday market.
“We want visitors to leave our market knowing every vendor who sold them their item or served them their yummy food was the one who created it. We are a producer market. That is our foundation. Those are our bi-laws that we weren’t willing to change [in order to continue the market downtown]. We are proud of our producer market.”
Natalie also reminds the community and visitors alike that their purchase from these vendors directly impacts these vendors’ lives. “These vendors have dirt under their nails, they barely sleep, they live/breathe their creations—and this is their livelihood. We don’t take it lightly when a customer buys a product. It feeds that vendor. This is farm-to-table. There isn’t a huge markup of profit. This market is providing the community with healthy, nutritious products or crafts that someone has made by their hand.”
To add to the wonderful market experience, each week, live entertainment from favorite area musicians fills the air during the entirety of the market. To check out who will be performing each week (at both the Wednesday and Saturday markets), be sure to check out the season lineup online at KootenaiFarmersMarkets.org/calendars/music-calendar.
Kootenai County Farmers Markets’ Wednesday market is held 4 to 7pm every Wednesday now through September 27, while the Saturday market in Hayden (at the corner of Prairie Avenue and Highway 95) takes place 9am to 1:30pm each Saturday through October 21.
“KCFM was founded in 1986 and [has] a strong hold in the community,” reminds Natalie. “We are grateful for those who come each week. Farmers markets are essential, and we are proud to be a local producer-only market.”
For those who would like to learn more about the Kootenai County Farmers Market, or for those interested in becoming a vendor, visit KootenaiFarmersMarkets.org. For the most up-to-date news, be sure to “like” and “follow” KCFM at Facebook.com/KootenaiCountyFarmersMarket.