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Hours weighed as rec board takes over Latrobe Farmers Market

Jeff Himler
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Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Frank Sage (left), of Brush Valley, and his grandson Sam Hocahrd, 10, work the Hilltop Produce tent at the weekly farmers market at Legion Keener Park , in Latrobe, on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

The Latrobe Farmers Market will be under new management this summer, but patrons may not notice much change.

Organizers intend to meet Monday to discuss dates and times for the market, now that Latrobe-Greater Latrobe Parks & Recreation has taken over operation of the popular event from the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program.

Possible extended hours for the market, which has been open Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. in June through September, are expected to be part of the discussion, according to Craig Shevchik, Latrobe’s director of parks and recreation.

“That’s a subject we will discuss, trying to have longer hours for people that work,” he said. “We want to make sure that’s acceptable for the vendors. For them, it might turn into a long day.”

He said suggestions also have included features that might be added to the market, such as live music or a story time for children.

For the most part, Shevchik said, he hopes to maintain the status quo when the market opens for its 13th season. “We’ll watch it carefully, see what works and what doesn’t, and see if we can fine-tune it,” he said. “The market has been very successful. We want to keep it that way and grow it.”

Market manager Jim Mikula has been involved since the event’s inception. He is expected to remain on board, Shevchik said.

The Parks & Recreation board voted last week to accept responsibility for operating the market.

That transfer is seen as a “good fit,” Shevchik said. He noted the market is held at Legion Keener Park, which Parks & Recreation maintains.

“We’re already down in the park, and it fits with our mission statement,” he said, adding that his staff has helped make sure vendors “get in and out” of the park for the weekly market.

Shevchik said the market is a welcome addition to Parks & Recreation’s offerings, as it “will give us a little bump in revenue” while providing a new way to promote its other recreational programs.

“It gives us an opportunity to cross-market with all the people who come down on a Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

For the nonprofit Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, which is busy with many other projects, it made sense to hand off the successful farmers market program, just as the organization recently turned over management of Latrobe’s popular summertime Great American Banana Split Celebration to the Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“As things grow really big, we just can’t oversee everything,” LCRP Executive Director Jarod Trunzo said.

Among other projects, the organization has been involved with installing new street lamps in downtown Latrobe, overseeing state-assisted business facade improvements and operating an incubator for small business start-ups.

Trunzo said the Latrobe Farmers Market did well last year, despite record rainfall that was a factor for outdoor markets throughout the region. He said the market featured about 35 vendors in a given week, out of a list of 100 vendors that have participated over time.

“I’m proud that we’ve kept it to a shop-local focus,” Trunzo said, explaining vendors have been required to “make, bake or grow” the products they offer at the market.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.