Cresco Open Air Market Thrives

CRESCO - It’s Thursday afternoon and things are hopping down at the Cresco Open Air Market. The offerings for sale run the gamut from bath bombs to mushrooms, from handmade wood furniture to prize winning kolaches and more.
Open air market manager Ashten Lienhard is happy with how the market is doing since making its debut in May at Beadle Park. The diversity of the vendor mix is just what she was looking to create in the early planning stages of the new market. 
She’s also pleased with the high quality of products. For example, Kelli Gosch is getting ready to debut her fall line of bath and body products. “She had her pumpkin spice soap this last market, and it smelled like pumpkin pie. It smelled so delicious that I wanted to eat it,” Lienhard said, laughing.
Another market favorite, Jim Perry, makes wooden cutting boards, serving trays, rolling pins and more. “He always does very good at the market,” Lienhard said. “They are just absolutely beautiful,” 
Not to forget the kolaches, Joyce Swestka is a multi award-winning, Howard County Fair kolache maker. But you have to get there quick for Swestka’s treats: she consistently sells out and spends the rest of the market taking orders for next week’s customers.
For those in a snacking state of mind, the open air market also features a kettle corn and snow cone maker and the Fatty Wagon, a food truck from the local restaurant Fat T’s. The Fatty Wagon’s menu changes up each week, but it always offers crowd favorites like gyros and nachos. “I would love to add a couple more food trucks,” Lienhard noted when discussing plans for the future. The logistics of doing so, however, places those plans squarely on the wish list, at least for the current season.
Lienhard is also looking for more vendors. As the Cresco Open Air Market evolves, she anticipates a specific window of registration for vendors, but in this early stage of the game, she is happy to add vendors as the market season progresses. “This year is very experimental,” Lienhard has said in the past, and her enthusiasm for refining the process is both palpable and contagious.
In addition to vendors, the Cresco Open Air Market features community-centric events and happenings. One such special event will be a Toppling Goliath Brewery beer sampling on Aug. 11 to celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week.
An on-going special feature is the Story Time readings the Cresco Public Library does twice a month. “We would love to see more children there,” Lienhard said. The Farmer’s Fable Corner, where every child gets a free book for coming to visit, has a generous supply of books to hand out before the end of market season.
“The open air market brings the community together and creates a space to socialize, especially for the elderly who might be feeling lonely,” Lienhard pointed out. “And with the playground right there, it makes a great place for parents to bring their kids, too.”
The open air market’s overall goal is to “Create and increase consumer opportunities to buy local products directly from farmers and creators.” Moreover, “Every dollar spent goes directly to market farmers and creators. All items are grown, fished, or created by market farmers and creators.” With these constants in mind, the Cresco Open Air Market will continue to evolve as space and time permit.
Because in the end, it’s all about the great mix of quality vendors and their unique, and often delightful, offerings. From homemade jams to handmade jewelry, from fresh produce to fresh cut flowers, the Cresco Open Air Market is a thriving destination for Howard County residents to enjoy every Thursday, come rain or shine.
“Come down and check it out,” Lienhard said. “We have a lot of amazing, talented people. I couldn’t ask for better vendors.”
Current vendors include:
Jill Fredrickson - Self published author, acrylic paintings, baked goods (granola bars and almond cookies).
Lilly Sauceda Millage - Self published artist: Cards, wall art, postcards, koozies, gift tags and stickers.
Gabrielle Bishop - Seedlings, vegetables, herbs, herbal products, stickers, house plants, cut flowers.
Fernacopia (Coletta Gooder) - Unique house plants, plant related decor.
Bloom Flower Farm (Jen Opheim) - Market bouquets, cut flowers.
Bath House Market (Kelli Gosch) - Bath and body products and accessories, room sprays, candles, bird feeder kits and more.
Joe Busta - Scroll woodworking products.
Jim Perry - Woodworking products such as cutting boards, charcuterie boards, taco holders, repurposed and hand made furniture.
Deb Mahr - Sewing items such as aprons, hats, coin holders and various crafts.
Autumn Nolan - Handcrafted and handmade jewelry for all occasions, head bands, key chains and more.
Joyce Swestka - Kolaches and other baked goods.
One World Micro Eco Farm by Lezlie - The only certified organic indoor oyster mushroom farmer in the state of Iowa. Produce. Mushroom tarts, herbal lotions, baked goods.
Made with Love by Martha (Martha Rasmusson) - Hand embroidered feed sack dish towels, hand embroidered quilts and baby blankets, homemade jams, various crafts and baked goods.
Blue House Studio (Tayna Riehle) - Photography, handmade jewelry, risen art.
Jess Weigert - Lotions and homemade body scrubs.
Jerry Johnson - Fresh produce. Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sweet corn. 
Gary Loden - Kettle corn and snow cones.
Skip Meiners - Baked goods, fresh produce, dried fruit, packaged nuts and handcrafted items.
The location of the Cresco Open Air Market is Beadle Park, every Thursday from 3-6 p.m. The rain location and the first Thursday of every month is inside the Dollar Fresh on the west side of Cresco. 
The Summer Market switches to the Winter Market on Oct. 6. The Winter Market will be held inside Dollar Fresh every Thursday until Jan. 12, 2023.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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