Excellence on Main Award

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Rotary Marketplace

Awardee: Downtown Association of Yakima, Yakima Rotary Clubs, and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2022

City: Yakima

The Downtown Yakima Farmers Market, which is managed by the Downtown Association of Yakima (or “DAY”), has been growing and becoming a major fixture in the downtown – due greatly from a strong team effort led by market manager, Yvette Lippert – but it is held on a street with very little shade, and each week is a struggle with closing down the street, the scarcity of electricity and water, and the weather conditions. Then-Rotary President and longtime downtown advocate, John Baule, wanted the annual Rotary Project to focus on downtown. After conferring with DAY Executive Director, Andrew Holt, the decision was made to pursue a permanent home for the market with a meaningful structure that provided necessary resources and a sense of place.

The three local Rotary clubs approved the project, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital approved leasing the property to DAY for $10 per year and allowing construction of the pavilion, and DAY agreed to manage and maintain the space once it was built. Many individual givers and local businesses also stepped up to support the pavilion. The total cost of the project is in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. John Baule was the leading fundraiser and the project manager who made this vision a reality.

Construction is anticipated to wrap up before the start of 2023’s market. When completed, a main pavilion comprised of brick and wood will face the street and right behind it will be a secondary pavilion with a tinted translucent covering. The two structures will provide 300 feet of shade with 80 individual stalls for vendors, equipped with electricity and water.

Yakima is an agriculturally based community with an abundance of small, independent family farms. Having a strong, vibrant farmers market is important to the community in assisting its economy and also furthering its identity. The pavilion will allow micro businesses a better chance to grow. Previously, a vendor might not attend because they could not provide their own power or lack of access to water, or they might not even have a tent. The pavilion will eliminate all of those obstacles, while also giving even more credibility to the ever-growing market as a vibrant weekly event as well as an economic driver. An additional benefit is that the pavilion will act as a public space for other community events.

A service club, a major employer, and the Main Street organization came together, each playing their necessary role, to fulfill a vision which makes the Downtown Yakima Farmers Market a fantastic example of community partnership.