Home Environment Mall owners meet to stop politics at farmers market

Mall owners meet to stop politics at farmers market

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The Market on State Mall and market venders met to discuss and settle the issue of political speeches and recruitment during farmers market hours this past Wednesday.

“We do not want any political activity on our farmers market property, said Brent Hayes, co-owner of Market on State. “Whether we agree or disagree, we do not think that is the place for it.”

Two weeks ago an anti-fracking group, the Bill of Rights Committee (BORC), announced plans to have a table for a petition signing to introduce a new piece of legislation that would get rid of fracking practices within the area of the Farmers Market. BORC is a group composed of students and residents concerned about fracking within Athens County.

The mall owners, however, would not allow for the group to set up on the property of the mall, due to the fact that mall property is considered private property and therefore exempt from having to facilitate speeches or protests of any kind. Instead, the group had a table on the sidewalk near the entrance of the market.

The owners rent out space to many local organizations and vendors, including the Farmers Market. Hayes said he will donate space for family or community organizations such as baseball teams, girl scouts, or the Athens Art Project, but nothing with any political affiliation.

Different local businesses must rent in order to sell on the property. Jeremy Bowman, baker and partner of Crumb Bakery, explains that they must follow specific guidelines in order to keep their spaces and be able to come back the following weeks.  Vendors are expected not to walk up and down the main isle giving out any political handouts.

“It is like people coming in and staging a protest in Kroger. It is private property and it is not really okay,” Bowman said.

Groups with political affiliations are expected to stay outside on the sidewalk if they want to promote anything, but it is within the rights of the mall owners to make sure these groups do not come onto the property.

The Athens Farmers Market is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.



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