EASTON, Pennsylvania — The Easton Farmers’ Market moved to Scott Park from Center Square in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that change may become permanent.
A majority of the city council voiced their support for the move at a meeting on Wednesday evening, after Megan McBride of the Greater Easton Development Partnership explained how the forced move turned into a blessing for the market. Going to the park allowed the Farmers Market to expand, and it may have outgrown Center Square.
McBride, Easton’s Market District manager for the partnership, and others including Mayor Sal Panto feared early last year that the move to the park along the Delaware River would be a failure.
“We were worried about being on the edge of the river and whether people would find us,” McBride said. People found the market, and it flourished.
Scott Park, located along Larry Holmes Drive, offers more space, scenic river views, and safety. Customers can walk around without worrying about traffic in the downtown circle, McBride said.
On the negative side, the park lacks the historic feel of Center Square, where the market began in 1752.
Some downtown businesses could be affected, McBride said during his presentation to the council. The Carmelcorn Shop and the Easton Antiques Emporium reported sharp declines in Saturday sales, she said.
McBride said the city may hold other Center Square activities, such as concerts or flea markets, to attract shoppers. The Farmers’ Market is only open for a few hours each Saturday, while a festival downtown can draw crowds all day.
Market sellers have seen sales increase, McBride said. Ben Scholl, a third-generation farmer from Scholl Orchards, said the success of the Scott Park market had changed his mind about the location.
“I was really against it at first,” he said. Scholl now considers the park the best location after two years along the river.
“We’ve been invited to other farmers’ markets,” he said. “We want to stay here.”
Loading and unloading is easier and safer at the new site, and product vendors can keep cold storage trucks in the park, increasing inventory and sales.
Council members agreed that the park is an ideal location for the market.
“Attendance has increased and I’m seeing more and more families,” Councilman Kenneth Brown said.
David O’Connell, who volunteers at the market, added: “I’m certainly in favor of keeping the market on Larry Holmes Drive.” With 32 outfits and sometimes more, “you probably couldn’t fit all the salespeople into the circle,” he said.
“I did a 180 on this,” Mayor Sal Panto said, describing his change of heart about the market returning to Center Square.
Councilor Sandra Vulcano is also in favor of the move.
With construction planned on Center Square, an official decision to keep the Farmers’ Market in Scott Park wouldn’t come until next year. Mayor Panto said the decision would be up to the city council. No action was taken on Tuesday.
Council also discussed parking issues, and Councilor Peter Melan and City Administrator Luis Campos discussed Easton’s progress in automating systems, such as parking administration.