The Riverbank Chamber of Commerce ends its Farmers Market summer session with one final Concert in the Park tonight at the city’s Community Center on Santa Fe Street.
The festivities run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Center Park, with singer Totally Frank performing on the outdoor stage. He will bring his brand of soft rock, pop and country music to the season finale event.
Also scheduled to return is a ‘bounce house’ feature for the youngsters. Very popular at the Aug. 26 gathering, it was a good place to spend some energy and stretch the muscles of those boys and girls who participate.
The fifteenth edition of the weekly gathering has evolved more into a Concert in the Park event, since the growing and harvesting season is slowly winding down in the valley. In addition to the free music, the remaining vendors make kettle corn, tacos, funnel cakes, hamburgers and hot dogs available to concert goers.
Chamber spokesperson and market manager Garnett Martin said she’s expecting the market to continue next year.
Begun in 2003 by Riverbank city staff, the Farmers Market has been located in several places around town over the years. The first few years, it was held on Santa Fe Street, in front of the Riverbank Historical Society’s museum, beside City Hall North.
Next, it moved to the Community Center Park, across from Cardozo Middle School, where its popularity grew with the green grass and plentiful shade provided by large trees.
After a time there, sponsorship moved to the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, which relocated the venue to the vicinity of City Hall, to Plaza del Rio Park, across the street. Lack of shade from the brand new trees and lack of seating for participants saw a reduction in participation by the public.
A few years later, sponsorship was taken over by City Council member Dotty Nygard and the Riverbank Community Garden. That saw another move, to the parking lot of Galaxy Theatres and Cool Hand Luke’s restaurant along Patterson Road. A similar lack of shade, minimal seating for the public and hot pavement proved to hinder, rather than increase, attendance.
When the Chamber took over again, the weekly Farmers Market was moved back to Community Center Park, where the shade, green grass and available stage seemed to welcome them home.
This year, however, a warm, dry winter, and continuing drought conditions conspired to make the growing season both early and short here in the valley. And some really hot and very cool nights made it difficult for market goers as well as those who came to the free movies afterwards, as the weather seemed to vary greatly from week to week.
There was always music, food and fun, though, and officials also indicated that the Riverbank site was a participant in the Market Match program, which allowed CalFresh nutrition benefit recipients to double those benefits at the market, allowing families to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables.