WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Farmers markets are popping up all across the Tampa Bay area.

  • Winter Haven opens farmers market
  • The market will be open on Saturdays through May 16
  • The mayor hopes it draws more people to downtown on Saturdays

Usually they’re seen as a way of encouraging healthy eating and boosting foot traffic in downtown areas.

Winter Haven celebrated the grand opening of its farmers market Saturday. It held soft openings in January. The market is held across the street from Grove Roots Brewing Company, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays through May 16. It will reopen in mid-September.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker was there, singing and playing the guitar with Coastal Acoustic Barefoot Music band.

Patrice Williams said the Winter Haven Farmers Market is much-needed. She co-owns Amonie Jo’s International Coffee and Delights with sisters, V’Asiah and Angie.

“It brings out the community, all parts of the community from government officials to stay-at-home moms to students. All ages are here. I don’t think we’ve ever had anything else that did that. This is the first time,” Williams said.

The sisters said the market provides a great opportunity to increase their customer base.

“This is amazing. It provides us a great opportunity to work outside of our truck which we always look for,” said Williams, adding that they usually sell the coffee out of their food truck.

Sean Connor was one of her new customers. He enjoys bringing his family to the market.

“This is the third time. We love it. We buy fresh vegetables. We listen to the music. We get delicious coffee. And it’s a great place for the family to hang out and it’s just a lot of fun so we love it,” Connor said.

Winter Haven's mayor hopes the market will bring more people downtown on Saturdays.

 “We’ve had a long term vision for downtown Winter Haven. There’s been a lot of time and treasure that’s been invested down here by corporations and by the government and it’s all coming together and this is just another piece of it to give Winter Haven the cool vibe that we’re trying to get,” Mayor Brad Dantzler said.

Chris Sexson organized the market with his wife Amy.   He said unlike other markets, this market will rely less on craft-based businesses and more on food vendors.

“Most of our vendors have been successful in the first three weeks. We expected it to take more time for this to grow but out of the gate, the community has just been amazingly supportive,” Sexson said.

Sexson said they’re still looking for about 20 more vendors.