The Wallingford Farmers Market will open for its fifth season next month on Wednesday, May 19. Due to expansion and an increased need for customer parking, the Wallingford Center (45th and Wallingford) is now only able to offer market vendors the south section of their parking lot, totaling 24 spaces. This is also the final year that the market will be held at the Center.
In order to accommodate additional vendors, the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce and the Seattle Farmers Market Association plan to expand the market into the parking lane of Wallingford Ave (between N 45th and N 44th), with the vendors’ booths facing and partially filling the sidewalk. “For the first time, we anticipate that we’ll finally be able to have the market seen from 45th,” says Kara Ceriello, president of the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has to issue a specific permit for use of this parking lane. Market Organizer Jon Hegeman tells us that SDOT has approved the idea, and that they’re just waiting for a formal diagram from the Association before they’ll issue the permit. “I don’t think the expansion onto the curb avenue is in question. It’s about the mechanics of what it’s going to look like, and the permitting process.”
While the 24 spaces in the back of the Center should be sufficient for now, Hegeman expects definite expansion by the time July rolls around and additional products come into season. “I can see another 20 vendors coming in,” he says.
While there was a discussion of relocating the market to stretch between Interlake Ave, N 45th and Stone Way, N 46th the Chamber and Association have decided against it due to cited concerns from nearby businesses and residents. Hegeman says that one particular business was terrified of losing their street access for customers.
Now underway is a Chamber initiative to move the Wednesday market to Saturdays and to close down Wallingford Ave between 44th and 45th for a weekend market. The idea is that the Wallingford Center’s plaza would then become a sort of “Village Square” and could host a variety of events for children and families, like live music, says Hegeman.
Of course, there’s already a Saturday farmers market just down the street in U-District. “There’s an overlap for sure, but we’re trying to reach the people who really don’t come on Wednesdays because they’re difficult for work schedules, children’s activities, etc,” says Hegeman. “We lose a bunch of our potential attendants because of the weekday time slot,” he says.
The primary goal is to provide an even larger market within walking distance for Wallingford residents where they can find everything they’re looking for. “With smaller markets, they’re more like convenience stores,” Hegeman says. “You can’t find everything you want.”
By the end of summer, the Association hopes to have gained enough community support to present a petition to the City to close down this stretch of Wallingford Ave for a weekend market. Hegeman says, “[the City’s] rule of thumb is: If people really want something, then they’ll make it happen.”
Due to popular demand, they hope to keep the market going until 7:30pm later in the season. A final decision has yet to be reached on this.
Wallingford Farmers Market: May 19- Sept 29, 3-7pm