The Barr Street Market has been a staple in the Fort Wayne community since the early 1840s. At its most popular, the market was open six days a week, stretched the entirety of two city blocks, and had permanent buildings and structures dedicated for it.
Over time, however, the market became less popular. The development of ultra-convenient supermarkets made it so it was no longer necessary to travel to the market to purchase perishable goods. Fewer consumers venturing out to the market resulted in a lack of vendor participation, and a significant decline in the overall success of the market. By 2005 the market had dwindled to being open one day a week, and featuring only 4-6 vendors.
Fortunately for the community, the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana took control of the market that very year. The organization recognized the importance and potential of the farmers market, and made it their goal to revitalize it. The group realized that the needs of the citizens had changed vastly since 1840, and the market had not adapted to reflect that fact. In order to create a farmers market that would effectively serve modern Fort Wayne, they strove to diversify the market’s supply.
No longer would the farmers market only be a location for the people of Fort Wayne to buy produce. Rather, the market would represent all of what the city has to offer. The Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana have since brought musical entertainment, artisanal goods and textiles, food trucks, free yoga, and children’s activities to Barr Street. As a result, the market has grown at a promising rate. Last year the market featured 50-60 vendors each week, with a total of 100 vendors approved to sell their wares. Additionally, there was an average weekly attendance of 2,500 citizens.
Pone Vongphachanh, a representative from the organization, humbly says that the YLNI has found success due to, “the growth of vendors, word of mouth, and community support.” However, the market’s renewed success is also undeniably the result of a labor of love. In addition to strenuous inside development, every worker at the market is a volunteer from the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. To honor the organization's successes, last year on the tenth anniversary, the YLNI Barr Street Market was expanded and rebranded.
The newly renamed YLNI Farmers Market opened for the season on March 21st at the corner of Barr and Wayne Streets. The market will be held Saturday mornings 9-1pm, through September 12th.
If you are interested in becoming a part of the market as vendor or a musical performer, joining the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, or donating to the cause, relevant information is available on the YLNI website. The historic market has been a part of, and strengthened Fort Wayne due to community support. It can only continue to grow and be an enjoyable asset in the future through the same means.
You can find out more about the YLNI Farmers Market in our online directory, right here.
Want to register your business? Do it for free, today!
More photos from the Farmers Market: