Written By: Executive Director Dominic Tartaglia
There is an old saying that goes, “Home is where the heart is.” For me, nothing could be truer than that. I live, play and work Downtown which is indisputably the heart of San Luis Obispo; some would even argue that it is the heart of the county. And in that heart there is one event, every week, that draws our community together: Thursday night Farmers’ Market in SLO.
Every Thursday night for the last 32 years our Downtown has come alive with thousands of people strolling down Higuera Street looking to experience the real SLO. Our beloved market started as a grass roots movement to encourage local economy and expand nightlife on an otherwise dead night. What locals affectionately call their own and refer to as Farmers’ is an event that we originally created for the benefit of local residents, guests, and businesses. Last year we conducted a survey of residents and guests and found the thing participants cared most about was buying healthy and sustainable goods that are grown and produced right here on the Central Coast. This year we are revisiting the concept of what is local and what locals expect from their market.
I have strong agricultural roots that go back five generations in San Luis Obispo and I am proud to say our market will continue to thrive as a place for locals to assemble and enjoy Downtown on a weekly basis. I am also proud to announce that starting this month we are improving the market based on feedback from the market survey. For starters we have a new logo for the market that speaks to the agriculture of the market with the iconic king of barnyards across the world, a rooster.
“Why a rooster?” you may ask. Having grown up on a ranch where the rooster starts the day with a call to wake the farmer and all of the other animals, I see our rooster as the call to start the weekend. From our survey we found that for many people, the Thursday Farmers’ Market in Downtown is the beginning of their social engagements for the weekend. We also wanted an image that was a symbol of prosperity, vibrancy and pride. Prosperity for the vendors and the community that comes down to the center of our community to buy and sell goods as our civilization has done for thousands of years. Vibrancy relates to our Downtown’s embrace of diverse cultural opportunities for food, music, entertainment, commerce and social exchanges. Pride relates to a community proud to have one of the top open-air markets in the state if not the country and farmers and vendors that proudly display goods that they have lovingly produced for sale each week. You can expect to see our rooster featured in our ads starting this month.
Beyond the logo change, March is also the first month that our market logistics will be managed in a more streamlined manner. We will be switching to an online application process that will help potential vendors with an expedited application process. Along with the improved application process we are adding a mapping feature that will enable consumers to search for specific produce items or vendors on their computer or smartphone. This translates to consumers finding the products that they want or need from the market quickly. It also means there is now an option to check availability of seasonal items effortlessly from the internet if you would rather not go through each booth at the market searching for say, cherries in March.
In essence, we at the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association are listening, watching and learning new ways to make our market better so that everyone can discover local flavor.
Established in 1983 when the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association closed six blocks of Higuera Street to provide a positive gathering space that also supports local businesses, Thursday Night Promotions (aka the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market) has since developed into a weekly, year-round street fair that includes top-shelf entertainment, abundant local produce, family activities, delectable prepared foods, value-added products and a bicycle valet. Thursday Night Promotions takes places every Thursday night from 6 to 9 PM on Higuera Street between Osos and Nipomo Streets in San Luis Obispo, California.