Opinion

Point/Counterpoint: Move farmers market to the county fairgrounds

By CHRISTINE MILLER

I support the Farmers Market. I always have and, as manager of the San Juan County Fair (1998-2008), I worked with Lovel and Boyd Pratt every year to help bring awareness to the public about agriculture, past and present in the county.

I was key in developing the Ag Tent at the annual fair. The purpose of the Ag Tent was to educate fairgoers about local foods, who was farming, and where to get products. Lovel and I talked every year at length about why the fairgrounds would be a great site for the Farmers Market.

When the fair purchased the additional lot and asked to be re-designated in 2006, having a farmers market at the fairgrounds was part of the plan.

Unfortunately, the fair has been put on the back burner and not gone through the process to be re-designated. Re-designation is the way to preserve the future of the fairgrounds and the perfect site for the Farmers Market. The farmers, not the Ag Guild, recognized that the fairgrounds meets most of the criteria for their needs.

Some compelling facts are that the fairgrounds is already owned by the county, meets the conditions for hotel/motel money and capital funding for both local and state, and has a historic building on the grounds that would be perfect for developing. If the proposed site for the Farmers Market is approved, the market will compete with the fair, parks, theater, and all the other entities needing and qualifying for those funds.

Why keep cutting the pie at the peril of other established departments? Why not go for the larger view of sustainable communities and instead of purchasing additional sites needing more tax dollars and funding?

The fair needs partnerships! What better partner for the fairgrounds than the Farmers Market; 100 years ago the farmers purchased and developed the fairgrounds for the annual fair and for the continuing education and use by the agricultural community, 4-H and the community at large.

Please let your voice be heard and tell the town and county councils that you do not support the proposed site in town for this costly Farmers Market.

— Christine Miller is a Friday Harbor resident and former manager of the San Juan County Fair.

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