The weekly market will carry on with a sponsorship from First Colonial Community Bank of Collingswood.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 1, 2019
After the resignation of longtime coordinator Doug Kelly, the Haddon Township Business Improvement District (BID) leadership board elected to discontinue the event, which was funded from the BID budget.
But public outcry around the cancellation of the market drew the notice of local leaders, who felt compelled to rescue the event.
“I think that the BID looks at it from a BID perspective, and from their perspective they didn’t feel it was worthwhile to fund a farmers market,” said Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague.
“We felt that, from a community perspective, it’s important,” Teague said.
Teague reached out to First Colonial Bank President Gerry Banmiller, a longtime supporter of the nearby Collingswood Farmers Market, and secured a commitment of $10,000 to operate the Westmont market for the 2019 season.
“I quickly said, ‘Absolutely,'” Banmiller said. “It’s a very good community service to provide that level of freshness and service to a town that deserves it.”
When asked whether he plans to sponsor the market beyond 2019, Banmiller replied, “I don’t do trial runs,
“When I’m approached by the leadership of a community, I respond,” he said.
Teague said the township government will continue its meetings with prospective market coordinators in the coming weeks.
Details have yet to be worked out, but the mayor believes the market will remain an evening, weeknight event situated in the local business district.
“The first obstacle was the funds, and we’ve accomplished that,” Teague said. “The next is working out the logistics and making it a successful event.”
Teague also said he hopes the potential cancellation of the market will energize attendance to help secure its viability going forward. He is hopeful that the market will make a May 1 opening day.
For Kelly, learning that the labor of love he established a decade ago will carry on was welcome news.
“I’m very proud of the people that spoke up,” he said. “I think the government is responding correctly, and I can’t wait to be there on opening day. They heard the people.
“As the founder, I’m just so damned proud of the market,” Kelly said. “It’s bigger than everybody. And it’s good.”
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.