Dallas Farmers Market, Fair Park may soon be managed by private companies




Posted on July 2, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 2 at 5:46 PM

Fresh fruit, vegetables, even fresh cut meat and spices. Farmers' markets are becoming more of a draw for families and chefs across North Texas.

Now one of the oldest farmers' markets in the area could soon be in for a big change.

For the past 68 years, the Dallas Farmers Market has been run by the City of Dallas but now it and Fair Park are being shopped out to private companies to manage.

Some say the help couldn't come soon enough.

"We need to be able to market it, and that takes a lot of money - politically the city can't spend money wining and dining somebody to bring a show to Fair Park," said Craig Holcomb.

Holcomb, the president of Friends of Fair Park, says donors are more likely to invest money in a private company rather than with the city.

But not everyone is sold on selling out.

"First thing they would probably do is come up on their stall rents... they'd come in more for the money, not the farmers or the market," said farmer Don Baugh.

Vendors at the market worry their $21 a day rent would be increased if someone else came in and with profit margins thin, it could price some of them out.

Some city council members feel it's still early for Dallas to throw in the towel.

"Can they do a better job privatizing than the public? I don't know, but we ain't doing a great job marketing it ourselves," said Tennell Atkins from the Dallas City Council.

If a deal is made, it could look very similar to the one Dallas struck with the zoo last year, when it transferred control to the Zoological Society, saving the city millions.

While the city confirms it is open for offers, the city manager has not said what kind of interest it has received.

Dallas is not the only farmers' market in North Texas.

Fort Worth, Frisco and Lewisville are among the list of certified farmers' markets according to the department of agriculture.