LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Sellers at the Saturday farmers market in La Crosse are finally starting to see business pick up.
The market moved from Lot C to Riverside Park this year and with the change in scenery came some new challenges. But a beautiful backdrop doesn't always spell out success.
One local vendor says business has been slow this season because parking at Riverside Park is not easy.
A park along the Mississippi River is a much better location for a farmers market than a parking lot according to many people in the park Saturday morning.
"The view is beautiful. You can't beat the view," vendor Bill Miller said.
Even with over 10 years of selling fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, Holmen resident Miller said the Lot C market had more benefits.
"We're stretched two blocks long, where we were one block wide with a double row and probably a third row added, and usually on both sides we had two rows of parking of people buying and we don't have that here. They gotta walk," Miller said.
"It's harder to park, especially for the elderly. I've got some friends who are older, they have a harder time finding a place to park, and then walking down here or getting out on a wheelchair and then driving down here on their wheelchair. (That) makes it a little difficult," farmers market customer Gary Sarver said.
Trying to find a place to park at the market is no easy task. Front Street is lined with parked cars, but the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department is trying to fix that.
"We're hoping to find better parking options for people to make the park more condensed or the configuration more condensed so people can navigate a bit easier," Riverside Park Farmers Market Coordinator Lisa Misch said.
Misch said she understands the parking frustration and says she's trying to make things as easy as possible in this year of change.
"For this year we have an option for people to leave their bags at the Park and Recreation table so if they want to go pick up their cars then we can go and hand them to them instead of them having to carry their heavy bags back to their car," Misch said.
With the change of scenery also came a change in price.
"The cost went up dramatically," Miller said.
La Crosse County requires vendors to have a license costing $65 or $75. To sell in Riverside Park there is an added fee of $100 or $140 for the season.
"We had to raise our prices, otherwise we weren't making any money," Miller said.
Miller said business has been slow, but it is picking up and he hopes that trend continues into August.
The farmers' market has had problems other than its venue this year. There were complaints earlier in the season about the event not offering enough of a food selection.
Vendors and organizers said that was due to the long winter we had. Now that it's the middle of summer over half the vendors are selling produce.
Here is a list of all the farmers markets in La Crosse County.
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