The Fort Ben Farmers Market is still new to the Lawrence community, but especially to Mandy Wright-Jarrett.
Wright-Jarrett is this year’s market master and is bringing new events and programming to expand the offerings of the market, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays through September.
Supervising a market, however, isn’t new to Wright-Jarrett. She ran the Kokomo Farmers Market for 4 1/2 years.
Wright-Jarrett was selected by Stevi Stoesz, the executive director of the Indianapolis City Market. Stoesz was brought on board last year by the city as a consultant to get the market off of the ground at the Fort Ben Civic Plaza, 9230 Memorial Park Dr.
“Stevi, she recruited me,” Wright-Jarrett said. “I assist with operations for (Indianapolis City Market), and as I built a relationship with her, she told me about this open position. The market master from last year did a great job, but she got another job.”
The Fort Ben Farmers Market was launched June 1, 2017 after the city’s economic development department and Mayor Steve Collier saw the need for a market in the area, which has been redeveloping since the fort closed in the mid 1990s.
A Kokomo native, Wright-Jarrett, 39, and her family moved to California for several years before returning to Indiana and settling on the east side of Indianapolis in the Irvington area.
“I just wanted to start developing roots,” she said. “I’ve done this before, and I just love running a market. I freelance doing creative consulting and free-range event planning. I refer to it as free-range event planning because all of the events I plan are pretty quirky and off the wall.”
Wright-Jarrett quickly put her touch on the market, including a change in layout so vendors can wrap around the plaza and face the greenspace. In and around the greenspace, there are activities for kids and adults, including hula hooping, reading time at a large maple tree, art projects, yard games, live music and more.
“We’re trying to create an experience,” Wright-Jarrett said. “The main focus last year was recruitment of vendors and getting people here. This year, we really wanted to focus on programming.”
Each week, there’s something new happening, and Wright-Jarrett is still recruiting musicians, artists and vendors. Since the market’s June 7 start, there has been a Superhero Day, music and dancing performances, live book readings, yoga classes and more, all at no cost to guests. A free yoga class is offered at the start of each market.
“We’re just hoping people want to come out here and build community,” Wright-Jarrett said. “It’s important to know your neighbors and support local folks. One of the reasons I signed on to do this market is because there is such diversity in Lawrence. It’s just another opportunity to bring all of these people together to enjoy something together.”
MEET MANDY WRIGHT-JARRETT
Fort Ben Farmers Market master Mandy Wright-Jarrett, 39, lives in the Irvington area of Indianapolis with her husband, George, an airline maintenance manager, and two sons.
She is originally from Kokomo and is a graduate of Western High School. She ran Kokomo’s farmer’s market for 4 1/2 years before moving to California. She moved back to Indiana last summer.
Wright-Jarrett formerly owned a yoga studio and works with the Indianapolis City Market and is a free-range event planning and creative consultant.