Sharon Farmers Market on the horizon

In a few weeks, the first Sharon Farmers Market will line the downtown with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to cheese to arts and crafts. The market, which currently has 25 vendors signed up, will be held the first and third Friday of each month from 4 to 7 p.m., in an effort to avoid a conflict with other markets in the area. (Heather Ruenz photo)

Twice a month event will feature vendors, support local nonprofits

By Heather Ruenz

SLN staff

The Village of Sharon is similar to many rural, small towns in facing the challenges of vacant buildings downtown and a lack of visitors regularly to support local businesses. The local businessman heading the Sharon Farmers Market, set to open June 16, said the goal of the market is simple.

“Many people remember how Sharon used to be. The grocery store burning down was the beginning of issues mentioned in surveys that had been sent out to residents,” John Nelson, manager of Toynton Funeral Homes in Sharon and Walworth, said.

“We initially came up with the idea of a quasi grocery co-op but that didn’t work so we next thought of a farmers market. We’re surrounded by farms so it made perfect sense. It’s not about making money, but to increase traffic in town, which may lead to businesses opening back up at some point,” he said.

Members of the Sharon Economic Development Committee, and several others in town, he said, have put their support behind the idea and are helping with marketing efforts.

Nelson said there are currently 25 vendors signed up and room for more.

“We got a list from the UW Extension’s Farm Fresh Atlas and sent out mailers to area farms. We also put up posters and as other names have been mentioned to us, we’ve followed up with mailers to them,” he said.

The market is expected to feature honey, crafts, tacos, shaved ice, fresh produce, baked goods, locally-raised beef, brats and burgers and artisan cheeses, among a variety of other items.

The decision to hold the market on Fridays was to avoid a conflict with other area markets.

One of the first to sign up was Kenny Wundrow, of Wundberg Produce located on Stateline Road, according to Nelson.

“We were lucky to get him involved. He at one point owned the True Value Hardware store here and has been great at keeping me motivated since this has been a more in depth process than I thought it would be,” Nelson said, adding that Wundrow also takes produce to area Mercy clinics and hospitals.

Vendors thus far are coming from a wide area around Sharon, including Edgerton, Janesville and Beloit in Wisconsin, and Belvidere in Illinois.

Nelson said at this point organizers are not being restrictive about welcoming more than one vendor offering similar products, but said the market is not a flea market so rummage sale-type vendors are not allowed.

“The market will be downtown to promote that area because that’s the whole point behind this. Another advantage to Friday night is there is a fair amount of traffic in town now for the fish fry at The Coffee Cup so those people will hopefully stop by the market,” Nelson said.

Adding to the goal of supporting the local community, Nelson said local nonprofits, such as Historic Downtown, the Lions Club, churches and Sharon Fire & Rescue, will be given free vendor tables to sell food and raise money for their group.

To cover the cost of advertising for the market, Nelson said a few local companies are sponsors.

The market will be held at the intersection of Baldwin and Plain streets with vendors on all four sides for up to a block, depending on the number of them, according to Nelson, who said the response has been very positive.

“Most vendors have verbally committed to the season and that’s important because we’re starting out and having vendors here, week in and week out, will help ensure its success,” he said.

The Sharon Farmers Market will be held the first and third Friday of each month from 4 to 7 p.m. The first registration for vendors is free; after that it’s $15 per event or $60 for the entire season.

For more information or to register, call (262) 581-3191, send an email to or visit Sharon Farmers Market on Facebook.

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