Myers will hold farmers market after all

A vendor sells sock puppets and perennials at the Hermiston Farmers Market in 2015. The site of the 2018 farmers market has been disputed after a clash between the city and business owner Mitch Myers.

The Hermiston Farmer’s Market is on its third location in three days after business owner Mitch Myers announced Friday his company Mitco Investments will hold the market after all.

Myers had announced on Wednesday that he was canceling the market due to a dispute with the city, but reversed course Friday after the city’s parks and recreation department announced on Thursday it would step in to provide a farmers market instead.

“I could care less what the city does,” Myers said in response to a question about whether it would be in place of the city’s market or competing with it.

He said the market, which will be rebranded as the Maxwell Market, will be Thursday evenings in a large tent on First Street, near the Maxwell Siding Event Center. The start date will be sometime this month, and Myers said he will be waiving the vendors’ fees and providing items like tables and security at no charge.

The market that staff of Mitco Investments and the Maxwell Event Center (also owned by Myers) was putting together had been planned for the Maxwell Pavilion, a 4,000-square-foot shade structure at 255 S. First Place that was to be constructed this month by Mitco. But city building official Chuck Woolsey placed a stop-work order on the site, telling Myers that contractors could not do any more work until a site plan review had been completed and requesting additional information that Myers called unreasonable.

Myers has accused Woolsey of purposely holding up that project and another of Mitco’s projects on purpose after a disagreement, and has sent the city notice that he intends to sue.

Without the pavilion, Myers told vendors Wednesday he was going to cancel the market altogether. The next day Hermiston parks and recreation director Larry Fetter, citing a flood of calls from disappointed citizens, said the city would be willing to take on the farmers market at the downtown festival street after it is completed in June. The outline of the market would be the same as what Maxwell/Mitco staff had planned, with a switch from Saturday mornings to Thursday nights and live entertainment to draw in more people.

In a phone call to the East Oregonian Friday afternoon, Myers accused Fetter of stealing his plans.

“Larry and Parks and Rec cut and pasted our 10 months of hard work,” he said.

As a result, he decided to hold a market after all, also on Thursday nights.

Robert Smith, one of the vendors, said he was glad Myers was putting on the market after all because he was excited for what had been planned and thinks the market will benefit from Myers’ business experience.

“Mitch Myers is probably the best thing to happen to the Hermiston Farmer’s Market,’ he said. “He has vision.”

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