A website dedicated to providing news about food and tips about cooking has named Market on Central one of the 101 best farmers markets in America.
The Daily Meal ranked Fort Dodge's summer festival, which features local vendors selling food, clothes, and arts and crafts, was ranked 76 on the list, which was compiled by the website featuring criteria which included what's available, "street credibility" and when the market is open.
Mayor Matt Bemrich said the recognition is a big honor for Fort Dodge.
"We're just thrilled as a community to see someone outside of the community recognize us as a top farmers market in America," Bemrich said. "It's a great opportunity to bring local produce, local growers and local folks that make crafts to sell them at the market."
Bemrich said that recognition benefits the vendors as well.
"For them to get recognition for the venue they've put together is just great for Fort Dodge and Market on Central itself," he said.
The news that Market on Central was named one of the best farmers markets in America even attracted the attention of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who had the link to the website posted on his Facebook page.
Todd Redenius, community development director for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, echoed Bemrich's comments.
"It's an example of the progress and momentum that Fort Dodge has experienced recently," Redenius said. "We all know what a great event Market on Central is, but it's great to see it get attention on a national level. That can only bring more enthusiasm for the market."
Redenius said the website's ranking is only the latest bit of positive news for the market. He said a $19,600 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture was recently awarded for the market.
"We'll be able to hire a market manager for each of the next two years, which would be a part-time position that would essentially lead the direction and day-to-day leadership of the market," he said. "That person will work in collaboration with the volunteer committee."
Redenius attributed the rewarding of the grant to work done with city, county and Growth Alliance officials in Washington, D.C.
"During the trip, Dennis Plautz (chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance) and other representatives from the city and county met with the USDA specifically about Market on Central," Redenius said. "It's one more good reason that we do a trip every year to Washington, D.C."
Market on Central started in 2011 and lasts from June until September. According to the Market on Central website, this year there are 44 vendors signed up for the market.
The next Market on Central will be held Sept. 14.