FARMER'S MARKET RETURNS TO RODNEY SQUARE ON WEDNESDAYS
It is 9:30 on a beautiful Wednesday morning, and there’s a traffic jam inside Rodney Square. Mike Magitti is directing his team from his outpost at the top of the stairs as the trucks roll by, as if on parade. There’s Wit Milburn behind the wheel of his Kapow truck, followed closely behind by the legendary fish tacos of KOI on the go. WiLDWiCH must have snuck in before the crowds.
In a few minutes, crowds will fill the square for the unofficial first day of the Downtown Wilmington Farmer’s Market 2017 season. But before we get in line, a quick chat with Mike:
“We're maxed out as far as food vendors. I kept adding them the last few years as food wait times got longer, but now we're at the point where food lines at the most are 15 minutes, and I know people can get in and out and have 40 minutes to eat. And, I mean, there's no place left to really put anybody.
“This year, we’re adding some local favorites. Mrs. Robino's and River Rock Kitchen, they're going to do tent set ups. Delaware Provisions truck is back, and so is I Don't Give a Fork and Outlandish. Farmer's Famous Fish hasn't been around in awhile and they have a new truck this year.
“Bright Spot Farms is back there in the corner. Priapi Gardens is from Cecil County. That's 100% U.S. organic certified. Sorbello Girls Farm Market, they're from Jersey, and I've got one more farmer from Locust Point in Maryland.
“This season, we’ll have African soaps and Avon. Real Time Pain Relief is a health mix drink. P.J. Fitzpatck, they're a home improvement company. Core Ten Fitness is here. Garland Thompson Insurance, he's from Market Street, he's here. Good Boy Biscuits & Bones, that's a good one if you have a pet. Do you have a pet? They have a ton of good stuff. Wilmington Library’s here. Delaware Lottery comes four or five times a summer.
“You know, it’s been 10 years since Downtown Visions took this over. Back then, Rodney Square wasn't as clean as it should have been. There were nine vendors total, and they were terrible, selling knockoff jeans – like, Jordache jeans, but they were Jerry's Jeans.
"Day by day, we were here, cleaning the square, making it welcoming for people. There were days when if 50 people showed up, we were saying, ‘Hey, it's gettin' better!’ It took us about three years. But in 2011, things really turned around for us.
“We turned it into a true farmer's market. We went down to one food truck and four farmers, and over the years, I added this and added that. Now, we average 3,000-4,000 people, maybe sometimes 2,500 on the summer's hotter days.
“At the end of the day, I get the vendors’ number for what they served. These guys, they wouldn't be here if they weren't making money, because they can take those trucks anywhere. They're competing against eight other trucks, plus for or five food vendors, and they're all still making money. If we ever get to the point where people aren't making much money any more, then I'll have to figure out what's going on -- but we have yet to hit that point.”