America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest 2011

Rockford’s lead evaporates in farm market contest

August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Let’s win one for Rockford, two for Michigan by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest voting website has revealed that the Rockford Farm Market is not alone in Michigan in trying to win a title as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. There will be four winners named, one for each of four market size categories: boutique (15 or less vendors), small (16-30), medium (31-55), and large (56+ vendors). Currently we lead the entire nation in all market size categories. Winning overall would be like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. With three weeks remaining in the contest, we find this is no easy task. Every time Rockford (pop. 5,700) builds up a comfortable lead in the small market size category, our chief competitor, Venice, Fla. (pop. 22,000), comes charging right back. In a 36-hour period over the weekend, Venice voters cast a whopping 400 new votes that cut deeply into our once comfortable lead. Manistique, Mich. (pop. 3,050), in the boutique size category, finds itself in the same position in an even more hotly contested race. They find themselves with a weekly flip-flopping lead against another Florida market in Punta Gorda (pop. 17,100). What we have here, in essence, are two Davids versus two Goliaths. Somewhat even more ironic is that, at this time in the growing season of Florida, much of their farm market produce is shipped down from the north. So, in an effort to assist one another in this contest the Manistique Farmers Market, with the strong support of the Manistique newspaper, The Pioneer Tribune, have joined forces with The Rockford Squire newspaper in promoting our respective markets in the remaining weeks of the contest. The Cedar Springs Post is also joining in and we welcome their support. “This would be a great way to bring some positive national attention, for a change, to Michigan. And to think we are only the ‘little guys,’” said Kerry Ott, market master of the Manistique Farmers Market. “We will promote this to our supporters as: Let’s win one for Manistique and two for Michigan.” This is becoming, in part, a contest between Michigan and the pretenders in Florida. After all, Michigan, the second most agriculturally diverse state […]


August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Two Michigan farm markets leading national contest  Dear Cliff and Nancy, I just got off the phone to the editor of our local paper, the Pioneer Tribune, and he is going to allow me to write an op-ed for the August 11 edition about the America’s Favorite Farm Market contest and for asking Manistique Market supporters to please vote for Rockford as well. We are excited to partner up with you in our endeavors to bring a little good news to Michigan. The post is already up on our website and we’ve been tweeting and facebooking it to our supporters. My mom graduated from Rockford High School in 1942 and I know if she were still alive, she would be excited to see a connection between Rockford and Manistique! We are proud to help. Here is a shortened URL to direct the folks to the vote page for Manistique: Here is the shortened URL I created for the Rockford vote page: it! Kerry Ott, Market Master Manistique Farmer’s Market

America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest enters final month

August 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford Farm Market still leads entire nation by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Let’s Rockford Farm Market still leads entire nation color this as an athletic event. We are about to enter the 10th week of a 13-week contest:  America’s Favorite Farmers Markets. One might say we are entering the ninth inning of a ballgame. Rockford is holding the lead, however slim, and it’s time to bring in the “closers” to protect our lead. Our opponent is tenacious (Venice, Fla.) and has been dogging us in the vote tallies for the past five weeks. Time to put the Venice Farmers Market away and raise our hands in victory on August 31! Now just who are these “closers”? It turns out that they are the ones who have, as yet, not voted and have been holding themselves in reserve for this very moment in time. It’s their time to step to the plate and hit one out of the ballpark. Are you a closer? Then go online to to cast your vote for Rockford Farm Market or, easier still, visit Saturday morning’s farm market and cast your vote in person at the voting booth in front of the Lions Market Master stall. Those of you who have already voted, thanks ever so much—you have played a part in the storied history of Rockford—but you, also, can be a closer. You can use all of your social networking skills to spread the word and encourage the vote. (We all know the residents of West Michigan are the most social and technically proficient people in the U.S.) Vote totals as of 11 p.m. Monday, August 1, 2011 for top five in all market size categories: •            Rockford Farm Market (small market)—1,886 •            Venice, Fla. (small)—1,697 •            Snellville, Ga. (medium)—1,550 •            Fayetteville, Ark. (large)—1,252 •            New Braunfels, Texas (large)—1,133 •            Las Cruces, N.M. (large)—1,014 If you have been following this contest online, you may have noticed that Michigan has another player in this contest. The Manistique Farm Market is no threat to Rockford’s standings, but nevertheless is leading the nation in the boutique market size category with 271 votes. Imagine the possibility of Michigan, the doormat of the nation for the last 10 years, having two small city farm […]

Farm market contest exhibits democracy in action for everyone—young, old alike

July 28, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Newspaper, television and radio coverage of Rockford’s weekly standings in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest has caused a strong up-tick in Saturday morning attendance at the downtown Rockford Farm Market. After reading and hearing of our improbable current first-place standings in the nationwide contest, farm market lovers from throughout West Michigan appear to be checking us out. First-time visitors are arriving from as far away as Traverse City and Ludington to the north, the entire Greater Grand Rapids metropolitan area, and Saugatuck and Holland to the south. Rockford area residents have always known in their hearts that we have the “world’s” greatest farm market, and now it’s no longer a secret. First-timers quickly fall in love with our market because it is a pure farm market and the essence of “Pure Michigan.” They eagerly seek out the market’s voting site and flock to add their votes for Rockford Farm Market in the annual nationwide contest. Many of these first-time visitors to Rockford Farm Market load their purchases in coolers in their vehicles and then spill over into the downtown shopping district seeking to enjoy a meal, grab an ice cream cone, and then browse through the shops. Rockford’s popular morning breakfast/lunch eatery, The Peppermill Grill, reports consecutive Saturday all-time highs. After discovering the charms of Rockford, hopefully many will return again and again. Now to current contest standings. Rockford still enjoys, as of 11 p.m. Monday evening, a respectable lead in the nation in all market size categories. Voting tallies are as follows: • Rockford Farm Market—1,603 • Venice, Fla.—1,404 • Snellville, Ga.—1,306 • Fayetteville, Ark.—1,128 • Las Cruces, N.M.—863 If you have not as yet cast your vote for Rockford Farm Market, you may do so at, or easier still you may do so by stopping by the Lion’s Market Master booth any Saturday morning during the farm market hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the remaining five Saturdays of the contest. The contest ends August 31. And remember, the farm market appeals to everyone—young and old alike! Youth especially love the market for its secret recipe freshly popped kettle corn, honey sticks, and the decadent and the ever popular Extreme Cinnamon Swirl bread. But […]

America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest heats up

July 21, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL As of 6 p.m. Monday evening, Rockford still led all farm markets in the nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest. But the race to the finish line (Aug. 31) is tightening up with farm markets in four states narrowing Rockford’s lead. The top five markets in vote tally are as follows: • Rockford’s: 1,185 • Venice, Fla.: 1,135 • Fayetteville, Ark.: 987 • Snellville, Ga.: 914 • Las Cruces, N.M.: 809 Just a week ago, the Venice, Fla. Farm Market was almost 300 votes behind Rockford. Apparently, they’ve figured out who they were up against (Rockford) and narrowed the gap to 50 votes as of the writing of this article. Venice, Fla. has a population of 22,000 and its farm market is open year-round. Seems like David versus Goliath, right? So, let’s show the nation why our little hometown Rockford (pop. 5,700) is the envy of the entire state of Michigan when it comes to competition and excellence! If you haven’t yet cast your vote, there’s still five weeks of voting left. We need to keep the pressure on the competition until they throw up their hands in defeat. Cast your e-mail vote(s) at or, easier still, simply stop by the Market Masters booth any Saturday during the Rockford Farm Market hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and register your vote on site.

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