And That’s a Wrap of the Carmel Farmers Market’s 25th Anniversary!

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September/October 2023

Oh, what a season it has been! As the Carmel Farmers Market summer season comes to a close, Carmel Monthly would like to thank all of the dedicated CFM volunteers, vendors and musicians who made the 25th Anniversary of the summer market exceptional and memorable.

We wrapped up our coverage of this outstanding season by talking with longtime CFM volunteer Jim Burrell. Post-retirement from Carmel Clay Schools, Burrell became a CFM volunteer 24 years ago. You will also see him volunteering at the CFM Winter Market and as an usher at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Carmel Farmers Market’s 25th Wrap

“I got involved with [the summer market] after my retirement as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for Carmel Clay Schools,” Burrell shared. “It all started because Ron and I were at a [Carmel] Rotary lunch and he had talked about the market and how they needed volunteers. And I thought, ‘Well, there’s something I can do,’ and I enjoy being around people. So, I jumped on that summer and have been with [the market] ever since.”

Burrell described the CFM volunteer corps as being a “family” and the summer market being a “social event.”

“We have the amphitheater and music every week,” Burrell said. “We have tables and chairs, which we did not have at the old market location [Carmel City Hall parking lot]. People sit around, listen to music and talk.”

The number of vendors at CFM has grown substantially since it’s first market season 25 years ago, and Burrell shared his thoughts on how he, along with his fellow longtime CFM volunteers, have watched muti-generational families participate at the summer market as vendors and as regular marketgoers.

“The market has grown by a number of vendors,” Burrell acknowledged. “I remember when Allen Baird’s daughter [Jennifer] first brought the corn to the market in her pickup truck. They started at our market when it was in front of City Hall. Phelps [Family Farm] was one of our first vendors too.”

When asked what makes CFM unique from other farmers markets in the area, Burrell replied, “We sell ice to our vendors, and we sell it at cost. We’ve been doing that for years, and it helps our vendors so they don’t have to stop at a filling station to get ice in the morning or worry about running out on a hot day. I’ve been known as the ‘Ice Man.’”

Carmel Farmers Market’s 25th Wrap

Burrell spoke about what it’s going to take to maintain the standards of professionalism and excellence that the founding and current CFM have established and maintained. He also expressed that the CFM volunteer corps is welcoming and enjoys bringing new volunteers into its fold.

Carmel Farmers Market’s 25th Wrap

“It’s a family,” Burrell stated. “We have parties throughout the year that most of us attend, whether it be a Christmas party or a summer party. We have fun times with those. We also have the winter market, so my wife doesn’t see me on Saturday mornings. It’s pretty amazing how many of us show up every week, and there’s a bunch of us that volunteer at other places too. I don’t think that many people realize that our market is not run by the city but is a committee-run market. And as some of us are getting a little long in the tooth, we need to continue to bring on volunteers and have people step up!”

Burrell also shared a CFM fun fact: “Did you know each vendor sign has two numbers? One is their booth number, and the other is how many miles they are from our market. You won’t see any over 300 miles … they’re all local!”

For more information on the CFM summer and winter markets, visit

Market Memories

A few of CFM’s volunteers shared some of their favorite memories and reasons why they enjoy volunteering their time and building friendships at CFM.

Deborah Schmitz

Most cherished memory of this summer market?

All of the many families that we see over and over again, rain or shine, enjoying the market. Our attendance was fabulous, and our volunteers really came to the plate to do our very best.

Barb Hammer

How does volunteering for the Carmel Farmers Market enrich your life?

Our vendors, at the close of the Market, will have a small amount of product left over. Frequently, produce vendors will generously donate fresh vegetables to the Food Pantry at Carmel United Methodist. It is my gift to deliver the fresh produce to the Food Pantry, bag the vegetables and refrigerate the bags. The real gift comes from our vendors!

Jennifer Hershberger

What is a market tradition that you hope continues for decades to come?

The tradition of handing out free donuts in memory of Jim Steckley on one of the first days of the market always touches my heart. Jim was one of the founders who started the Market in 1999, and his tradition was to distribute free donuts on the first day of the Market. It’s a great tradition!

Susan Bock

Have you learned something new this year about the market by way of a volunteer or vendor whose story impacted you?

I am impacted every time that I hear the personal story of how a vendor reached the point that they are today. For example, Heather Dame, the owner of Lucky Lemon Bakery, won a $10,000 grant one year ago this week, which has allowed her to attain her wildest business goals. Her story is absolutely amazing.

Lisa McLaughlin

What are you most proud of, regarding the summer market?

The variety of vendors and products; the community we create; and the public we interact with. There is nothing quite like it.

Doug Dolan

What is a market tradition that you hope continues for decades to come?

The Firehouse Cook-off

Janet Guildenbecher

What is a market tradition that you hope continues for decades to come?

Donut day, Fourth of July parade float and kazoo parade at the market, flyovers, rain barrel display, quick paint, Firemen’s Cook-off, etc.!