Thursday Night Market Place in Hanford
Jul 21, 2017 11:00AM
● By Jordan Venema
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Kelli Avila
Everybody loves a farmers market, which is probably why you can find them in most cities across America. And there are farmers markets and then there are farmers markets – those ones that stand out because more than offering fresh, local produce, they create a destination.
For nearly 20 years, Hanford has been on the farmers market bandwagon – or tractorwagon, if you will. But in the last few years, the Thursday Night Market Place has undergone a kind of transformation.
Not that downtown Hanford doesn’t already have its own allure and architectural charm, without having to mention the historic carousel rides and Superior Dairy ice cream.
Managed by the local nonprofit Main Street Hanford and certified by the national organization of the same name, the Thursday Night Market Place brings more than just food and produce to the table.
“It started out really as just a farmers markets by the Hanford Improvement Association, which was a downtown association type of thing,” explains Shelly Talbert, Main Street Hanford’s Executive Director. “Main Street Hanford then took over the event in 2000, so this is our 17th year. We’ve expanded it into more of a fun event.”
At its heart, or root, the Thursday Night Market Place is still a certified farmers market with all the standard produce.
“We have vendors that come from San Luis Obispo, and a berry vendor from the coast, as well – a vendor from Santa Cruz,” says Talbert. “But most of the farmers are local to Kings-Tulare and Fresno County farmers. So this gives everybody the chance to eat fresh and eat local” during the market’s 22-week season between May and late September.
“In total we have about 110 vendors, 25 of whom are farmers, and the rest are food booths, informational booths and a lot of nonprofits that come out to talk about their organizations. Many of our businesses downtown come out, too,” says Talbert. “We’ve really been working the last few years to increase the number of downtown businesses that are participating,” some of which include floral and clothing retail.
As for the fun events, bounce houses and pony rides make the Thursday Night Market Place a family event, while Talbert adds that “we also have a wine and beer garden with live entertainment every week.”
Which means a lot of people are coming out to Hanford on Thursday nights. “It has definitely evolved into what it is today,” agrees Talbert. “Right now we have about six blocks of vendors, and about 3,000 people come out every Thursday night, so it’s a pretty large event.”
Every Thursday has a theme. “This week is dairy appreciation, so we’ll have the dairy princess out at the market, and a little calf that comes out, like a petting area,” Talbert says. “We have samples of ice cream, and milk straws. So it’s just a fun night.”
They’ve also had petting zoos in the past, and future theme nights include Paint Downtown Pink for cancer awareness, Lose Your Blues Downtown, including live music, and Hot August Nights, which will host classic cars and dancing in the streets.
“We’re really trying to build on the successes that we’ve already had to make it a bigger and better event,” says Talbert. “And so far we’ve had just a fabulous season. The weather has been perfect.”
Thursday Night Market Place • 5:30 pm Thursday
Irwin & Seventh Streets, Downtown Hanford
www.mainstreethanford.com • (559) 582-9457
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