Elkader Farmers Market at new location in city park

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

Amanda Keppler, the unofficial spokesperson for the Elkader Farmers Market, stands in front of homemade baked goods, jams, jellies and postcards designed by her daughter Denise. (Photos by Willis Patenaude)

A sneak peak of goods sold at the Elkader Farmers Market. Head down to Elkader City Park Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and noon until mid-October to see more.

New to the farmers market scene is Marlin Ott, who shows off a collection of crosses and hand painted wooden signs.

By Willis Patenaude 


On a rainy Saturday morning in Elkader’s City Park, a small, but dedicated and passionate group of local vendors arrived and set up tables, tents and lawn chairs, ushering in a new era for the Elkader Farmers Market. 


It wasn’t long ago that the market was held downtown in Keystone Park, next to the bridge and the Turkey River serving as a scenic backdrop. Sometime around 2019, the market changed locations to near Founders Park. The decision, however, led to a splintering among market vendors. While some stayed, others relocated. 


Among those who relocated was Amanda Keppler, the unofficial spokesperson for the market. Keppler gives a talkative, yet friendly persona, never missing an opportunity to promote or share her passion for all things related to farmers markets. In the aftermath of the relocation, Keppler moved her booth to the Fast Trak on Highway 13, outside city limits but still within the community. At the time, she had no plans to come back into town. 


Recently, though, things started to change. There was a growing desire to bring the farmers market back into town, or at least somewhere closer. Like a lot of things in life, the opportunity came about by chance, really, when Amanda and daughter Denise were touring the Rural Heritage Museum, a place Denise enjoys going because she has an enthusiasm for tractors and likes the piano that plays itself. During that visit, they ran into Roger Thomas, who had history with the market when it was at Keystone Park. A natural conversation started, during which Amanda expressed a desire to move locations, prompting Roger to suggest City Park, which sits next to the museum. 


Amanda was initially hesitant, not wanting a repeat of history, but eventually all sides agreed the town needed to have a market and to let go of the past. The time was right for a change. About three weeks ago, the farmers market came back into town, more visible and more acknowledged, but Amanda didn’t come alone. She brought some friends with her, though they classify themselves as more like “family” given how tight knit they are. 


One vendor who braved the rain was Marlin Ott, who got involved through a friendship with Amanda. Marlin finds value in the farmers market because it gives people an opportunity to see what skills and products are available locally, and they’re a good place for social interaction. He can trade stories with people, as well as share the woodworking hobby he recently got into to stave off the boredom of rainy days and impending retirement. 


It was back in February when Marlin came across videos on social media and found he was interested in doing some of what he saw, which included hand painting home décor signs and a procedure known as fractal wood burning, where patterns and designs are put into wood surfaces by electricity. 


On his table at the market, Marlin has numerous décor signs, which his wife Roxanne helps him with, and a plethora of crosses that have been carved through the fractal burning process, meaning no two crosses have the same design. 


There is a “natural beauty” in the art placed on the wood, which is all sourced locally, something Marlin is especially proud of. Nothing he sells is store bought. It’s all done with “a lot of care and heart.” 


As a first time market vendor, Marlin has high praise for the community. The experience thus far has been “awesome,” he said, as have the views of the Turkey River, which he never fails to gaze at during downtime or between conversations with customers, Amanda and the other vendors, like Dawn Amundson, who sells eggs and crafts. 


Dawn has been coming to the market since Amanda “dragged” her into it, a joking comment that elicited laughs among the vendors gathered round, huddled under Amanda’s tent to escape the slow, irritating sprinkles of rain. Dawn enjoys the atmosphere, especially when it’s filled with customers who she can talk to and provide an experience that will make them want to return. After all, customers are the lifeblood of any market. 


Getting customers to come back is something the market is focused on, so vendors try to talk to everyone who shows up, treat them with respect and even tailor experiences based on the person. 


It’s about “being down to earth,” Dawn said, as well as supporting other vendors if you know they have what a customer wants. 


The market is a place for small talk, sharing passions and knowledge and building friendships. That last piece is why, when Dawn had to leave early, she left her eggs behind, knowing her friends would take care of them in her absence. 


Another vendor who made the trip to city park was Pauline Dettmann, who has been going to markets for about nine years and specializes in painted rocks and pallets. The Elkader Market is one of three Pauline attends with her rocks, which started as a hobby she learned watching videos on the internet. It’s something that keeps her busy in retirement, and there is satisfaction in seeing the expressions on customers’ faces when they encounter a rock painted with an out-of-the-ordinary design.


The rock collection is vast—a mixture of designs from gnomes, chickens, cats, pickles and assorted logos and well-known characters designs. There is something for everyone on the table or in the baskets. 


While the gnomes are popular, Pauline’s favorites are the ones “that make people laugh.”


Amanda has been doing markets for close to 15 years, she thinks, as the years have started to “blend together,” a byproduct of the notion that “time flies when you’re having fun,” as Dawn put it. Amanda loves farmers markets and doesn’t shy away from expressing it. It stems from a love of being outside and playing in the dirt, where she spends a lot of her time. In her garden, she grows an assortment of produce and berries, which she uses to make the jams and jellies she brings to market. 


Amanda also brings baked goods, wire art creations and the occasional piece of embroidery. Then there are the hand drawn postcards made by 12-year-old Denise, who has tagged along with mom over the years, helping out, learning the business and developing skills. She started making postcards because she likes to draw and likes being by the river, which she hopes to explore during a future Saturday morning. Of course, Denise also started doing it because she wants to make money to buy things like new cowboy boots, diecast tractors and fishing equipment. 


Emphasizing the idea that market vendors are a family was probably Denise’s comment. She has “a lot of aunts and uncles who aren’t even related to me,” she said. 


The farmers market is a place of good people, smiles and small-town small talk, even on an overcast morning. 


As the farmers market gets up and running at its new location, Amanda acknowledged there will be “hiccups” along the way, like rainy days or not finding a specific vendor. It’s all part of the growing process. As the weather warms up, additional vendors will as well, selling everything from soap and candles to produce, crafts and much more. 


Head down to Elkader City Park Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and noon until mid-October, where you can visit the friendly faces, chat and share stories with vendors, then go home with something unique or just a smile at having had the experience of interacting with such a passionate group of individuals. 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet