Organizers of the downtown Beaufort farmers market want to keep the weekly event on West Street again this season -- but they want to shorten the season and shift operating hours.
This year, the market could open at the beginning of May and run through September, according to LaNelle Fabian, director of Main Street Beaufort, USA, which runs the market.
The season was mid-May through October in 2012, when the market's opening was delayed by several changes, including a move from the Freedom Mall by the Beaufort Downtown Marina.
The market would still be open each Wednesday during the season, but its hours could shift to 2 to 6 p.m. Last year, the market was open from 3 to 7 p.m.
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"We're an afternoon market, so when the time changes, it gets darker earlier," Fabian said, explaining the time shift. Many vendors found they had few customers after an early rush.
"People were trying to buy, literally, out of the farmers' trucks, while they were trying to unload," Fabian said. "And then the farmers were sitting there after 6 p.m."
Main Street Beaufort will need City Council approval to make the changes. Also, the organization will again ask the city to close part of West Street between the BB&T bank drive-through lane and Craven Street, as was done last year.
That street closure once concerned Councilman George O'Kelley Jr., who questioned whether it would cause traffic problems. But both he and Councilwoman Donnie Beer said during a council meeting Tuesday that those problems never seemed to materialize.
Fabian said concerns about whether people would find the market faded as the season progressed, as well. People started to remember Wednesday was market day, or they would hear live music and come over, she said.
"It became more of an event to attend rather than, 'oh, I'll try to go next week,'" she said.
The market is still considerably smaller than others in the area, such as the Saturday market in Port Royal.
Fabian hopes that will change. Staying in the same location as last year should help, she said.
"I think it's consistency that's the key," she said.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.