From simple beginnings grew the Black Hills Farmers Market, a flourishing community staple that thousands of people look forward to visiting each year. Founded in 1989, the Black Hills Farmers Market has seen its share of changes, most of them positive and contributing to the market’s success. Now hosting more than 50 vendors during the peak of the season, the market is moving to a new permanent home in Rapid City that can accommodate the market’s anticipated growth and vision for the community.
THE EARLY YEARS
The Black Hills Farmers Market’s first sale day was Saturday, August 5, 1989. The sale was located in the Pigeon Building at the Central States Fairgrounds, and it was sponsored by the Pennington County Extension Service. Starting with just five producers during its inaugural market week, the Black Hills Farmers Market doubled its number of producers by its second weekend in business. The year was a successful start for the market!
In 1990, the market expanded to the Baken Park parking lot on Wednesdays, and the Pigeon Building on Saturdays. This year saw additional producers join the market, ending the season with almost twenty producers. The market moved again in 1991, beginning the season in a downtown parking lot at 6th and Main Street. Moving downtown helped the producers’ sales tremendously, and the market grew to 28 producers within the year.
CONTINUING TO GROW
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the Black Hills Farmers Market continued to grow, and sold at several locations in the community. The longest standing location for the market started in 2004 at Founders Park on West Omaha Street. The Founders Park location saw many benchmark events, including the Great American Food Truck Race in 2013. On June 1 of 2013, a half-dozen food trucks showed up to compete, and it was the best opening day the market had ever seen!
The 2014 season marked the Black Hills Farmers Market’s 25th anniversary, and the Board of Directors saw the value of adding more educational and entertainment events to enhance the market. During this season, the market was also recognized in the June 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.
IN FULL BLOOM
The 2016 season welcomed 50 vendors, including visiting vendors from all corners of the country, and the 2017 season anticipates even more vendors and customers than ever before. Having outgrown Founders Park, both by vendor and customer numbers, the Black Hills Farmers Market is worked with community groups and Rapid City Parks and Recreation to scout its new home.
Finally settling on the greenspace at 145 East Omaha Street, where Harley Davidson used to be, community members can expect an engaging, eclectic full-farmers-market experience at the new location! The market’s new home has more than double its previous space to provide education and entertainment events, community information booths, an abundance of local producers and artisans, as well special community and service programs.