Music fills Bosco Plaza, and tables cover almost every square inch of the space. Manhattan vendors and Kansas State organizations, eager to sell goods and share testimonies, are filled with anticipation — the K-State Farmers Market is back on campus.
As the university pushes to return excitement surrounding events that became dormant during COVID-19, the Union Programming Council’s Farmers Market has followed suit. A yearly event through the Union since 2015, the Farmers Market came to a startling halt due to the pandemic. Now that the event is back up and running, there are some major revamps being made, Caitlin McCourt, program coordinator for the Union Programming Council, said.
“During COVID, things could only be pre-packaged and no contact,” McCourt said. “Now being back, one big thing that we’ve changed is we had local people come in; it’s always been just K-State students or staff.”
Another change, McCourt said, was to make the items that were free for students more sustainable and likely to be used after the event.
“We wanted to give away stuff that students wouldn’t throw away after the events,” McCourt said. “This time, we decided to do these really cute clear milk-carton water bottles and tote bags for people to paint. It all ran out in about 20 minutes. At our next event in October, I’ll probably order double or triple the amount.”
As the Council felt success on their side, the same reaction resonated amongst students and vendors. Iris Enna, junior in strategic communications, said she enjoyed the market.
“I went by and looked at every single table, and I thought that each of them were really cool,” Enna said. “I liked how there was K-State stuff and also stuff from the Manhattan community.”
Aubrey Naasz, freshman in social work, said she agrees, adding the giveaways were her favorite part of the event.
“My friend and I found out about the event through our emails, and we decided to check it out,” Naaz said. “We made a tote bag and that was really fun and then we were able to peruse all the tables.”
Lauren Couchman, co-owner of Lil Goblin Tingz (a small business selling various trinkets, clay figures and art) and recent K-State graduate, said her favorite part of the event was being able to interact with all of the attendees.
“My co-owners and I were students here and went to the Farmers Market before COVID hit, so we knew the event already existed and we wondered if it would be coming back this year,” Couchman said. “It’s been phenomenal. We went into this just expecting to get our name out and not sell a lot. … But we’ve done pretty well and it’s been great getting to talk to students.”
As the Union Programming Council works to bring the Farmers Market back as an established event, McCourt said that the main goal is now making adjustments.
“We wanted to focus on bringing the event back, but now also continue to make it better,” McCourt said.
As preparations begin for the October 13 Farmers Market, a larger number of current students know what to expect. Re-establishing the event might present a list of challenges, but excitement and interest are not part of that list.