A study analyzing the rapid increase of farmers' markets in Indiana (222 percent between 1994 and 2004) was released from Purdue University yesterday. The researchers looked at what factors increased a market's popularity. The following ranked highest, when all other variables were held stable:
1. Cooking demonstrations brought 200 more people to a market
2. Concession stands attracted 110 more
3. Each additional product/vendor drew in 20 more
4. The presence of WIC (Women Infant & Children Farmers' Market Nutrition Program) attracted 20 more.
Interestingly, live music discouraged people from supporting the market. When music was played at a market, attendance declined by an average of 200 people. This from the press release: "These findings could indicate that customers attend the market to shop, not to be entertained", the researchers explained.
Reminds me of the farmers' market we visited in Montana, desperate to taste some of the local beef we had been watching graze all week. Other than a few stands with arugula and tomatoes, and a table tended by bonnet-bound girls offering chicken and eggs, the market resembled a county fair. There was cotton candy and fudge, kettle corn and pulled pork sandwiches. Knick knacks, handmade and otherwise.
And yes, we left, before they finished setting up for the band.
photo by Jaimie Duplass, via Dreamstime