As early spring rains give way to late April sun, local farmers markets are setting up shop for the season.
Two of Jefferson City's three farmers markets opened for the spring and summer seasons last weekend. The third will open in early May.
The Cole County Farmers Market opened Friday in the Capital Mall parking lot near the mall's closed Sears location. The market moved to Capital Mall last spring from its former location in the old K-Mart parking lot at 2304 Missouri Blvd.
Organizer Kenny Anderson said turnout last year at the new location pleased him, and he expects it to improve this year.
"I think it's going to get bigger and better," Anderson said. "Once you move you go through growing pains, but it will get better."
Vendors at the Cole County Farmers Market will offer their usual selection of homegrown fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers and breads this season. Hours for the Cole County Farmers Market will be 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and 2-4 p.m. Saturdays. Organizers expect the market to remain open until around the end of October.
The Lincoln University Farmers Market also opened Saturday at 1219 Chestnut St. It will be open 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturdays through Oct. 6. The LU market offers locally grown produce from farmers within 50 miles of the city.
The Capital City Farmers Market, formerly the Downtown Farmers Market, will debut its new indoor location in early May at 130 E. Dunklin St. The new building will allow the market to operate year-round and offer a cafe/deli, a community-use commercial kitchen and a youth library.
Steve Smart, a Capital City Farmers Market organizer, said renovations to the building are progressing well. Organizers originally thought they had found the right site for the indoor market in the 22,000-square-foot former Blattner Home Furnishings building next door, but realized installing a commercial kitchen in the structure would have been too costly. Instead, they moved into the smaller building next door, where Welcome Inn Again previously was located.
"If we had moved into the other building, re-making the building would've pushed us past the first of May," Smart said.
When the Capital City Farmers Market opens May 5, the new location will allow it to better serve patrons by being open several days per week. Smart estimated about a dozen vendors will sell items on opening day.
The Capital City Farmers Market will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays.
Over the past two weeks, cold and rainy conditions through March and early April yielded to mostly sunny weather in the low 50s and 60s.
Greenhouse tomatoes should show up at the Cole County Farmers Market soon, Anderson said. The poor conditions early in the spring set other Jefferson City area vegetable and fruit farmers back. Different types of melons, gourds, flowers and other items will be available as the seasons change, Anderson said.
Correction: Hours for the Cole County Farmers Market will be 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and 2-4 p.m. Saturdays. One of the days was listed incorrectly in an earlier version of this article and in the print edition. The error has since been corrected in the text above and a correction will appear in Wednesday's paper.