Let’s hope the Farmers Market fracas that broke out last summer and continued into the winter is over.
A committee considering new rules for the market will present its proposals to the Downtown Development Authority board on Thursday.
Here’s what to expect. An increase in the fees for each vendor, but nothing exorbitant. Last year, the fee worked out to less than three dollars per site each Saturday. It’ll be more this year and, let’s be frank, if you can’t afford ten dollars a day for a vendor’s fee, you probably don’t have a viable business.
Between five and seven more vendors’ sites will be opened up this year. That’s good. There’s been pent-up demand to sell at the market.
The set-up of the market will be different this year, hopefully to facilitate better traffic among the vendors.
Finally, (Controversy alert!!) there will likely be an opportunity for a vendor selling produce from downstate to set up at the market. This was the issue, of course, that created a nasty dispute between Farmer Q’s and local farmers last year and ultimately resulted in Farmer Q’s closing up shop.
The DDA is in the difficult position of trying to please both the local farmers, who generally oppose competition from downstate, and local shoppers, who love the fresh produce from downstate.
Sure seems like the best and fairest solution is to allow downstate produce at the market unless and until it competes directly with local produce. Then it has to be pulled. Some local farmers say that’s precisely what they’d like to see.
The new regulations should come out Thursday, the 13th. Applications for spots at the market can be submitted on Monday, the 17th.
If you were hoping that this recent respite from our brutally cold winter was an indication that an early spring was on the way, well, good luck with that.
Weather guru Karl Bohnak says this winter weather pattern–long, frigid periods interrupted by a few days of relief–will likely continue through March into April.
Spring will probably arrive later than usual.
The problem is, the Pacific Ocean just south of Alaska is warm. That keeps Alaska warm, and in turn, keeps us cold. That’s just the way it is, and it’s going to stay that way.
Wonderful. Can’t wait until summer arrives in September.
Something else that’s notable. Even though it’s been frigid, snowfall is actually down in Marquette County this winter. Like, about 30 inches below average at the Negaunee weather station.
There’s still plenty of snow on the ground because the temperatures haven’t allowed much melt (at least until Monday), but there hasn’t been a serious system snowfall all winter. Just two inches here, five inches there. Nickel and dime stuff, Bohnak calls it. Strange winter.
And how’s the winter affected the Marquette Golf Club?
Surprisingly, it hasn’t been too bad.
Craig Moore, the superintendent for the grounds, says they’ve checked and there appears to be no serious ice accumulation on the course. The heavy snow pack is protecting the grass. That’s good news, although winter’s not yet over. In past years, significant parts of the Heritage and Greywalls course were damaged because of ice.
When will Heritage open up? Likely in mid-April unless we get another unwelcome visit from the polar vortex. Greywalls will follow a couple weeks later.
As for the persistent and pesky rumors that the MGC is on shaky financial ground, office manager Amy Burdick says absolutely not.
Three straight years of profits, she says, and last year play on the two courses was up 10%, revenue was up 5%.
Membership dues are slow in arriving, as usual. Only 180 have coughed up their money so far; there were 575 paying members last year.
Maybe when we can actually see a blade of grass poking through the snow on the course and the temperature starts hovering above a balmy 40 degrees, we’ll start thinking about golf.
More on the winter theme.
Marquette’s new and heralded German restaurant, Das Steinhaus, has made it through the slow season. The entrepreneur and chef Justin Fairbanks concedes there were a couple of dreadfully slow weeks in January, but business through December exceeded expectations, Valentines Day was a record for them, and business has clearly picked up in the last month.
Then, there’s this: Das Steinhaus has added a lunch in the last few weeks, their Sunday brunch (sometimes featuring lobster benedict) has exploded in popularity, the staff has increased from 6 to 16 over the last several months, they’re now making their own desserts and their creative cocktail selection is becoming legendary.
The NMU influence is substantial here. The staff includes two NMU grads and three current students. Fairbanks, himself, attended NMU but never graduated when he found himself cooking more than studying. He ended up getting his education at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.
Oh, one more thing that you can’t help but admire. Das Steinhaus offers 60 different beers, all craft beers or imports. You want a Bud Light or Miller Light? Sorry, they don’t carry it. They’ll steer you to something else.
German food’s not for everybody–especially those who love fresh, crisp vegetables and lean, rare cuts of meat–but you can’t help rooting for this place. It’s local, it’s ambitious, and it’s different from every other restaurant in town.
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