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I have never liked Willow Park. Eleven years I have lived in Cache Valley and Willow Park just does not enthuse me at all. I will not disparage those who like living around that park; nor will I suggest that the park itself is somehow inferior. I just personally have held a bias against that part of Logan.

So, it was with much consternation that I went down to Willow Park the past two years to attend one of my favorite activities in Northern Utah—the Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market. I loved the Market when it was previously at Merlin Olsen Park—but the city of Logan killed that off when it decided to construct a thruway right next to that gorgeous park. Not only did that new road reduce the paucity of parking at “Central” Park to zero, but in my opinion, it also has killed off some of the park’s charm. It now looks foreboding. All in the name of driving convenience.

That was the argument in favor of Willow Park. It had parking! Ugly park, no shade, the bathrooms were far from the vendor’s tents and there were no businesses close by to reap the benefits of such large crowds congregating on a Saturday afternoon.

But it had parking. Lots of parking.

All bad ideas are, usually, reconsidered. And so it was that this week with the Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market. With much glee I read that CVGM (I have decided it should be an acronym) would be moving its location to the grounds of the Cache County Historic Courthouse on Main Street and 2nd North.

Yes! Sanity in a place where common sense is usually tripped over instead of embraced. Such is my exuberance that I contacted CVGM to ask about how this change came to pass.

I spoke with Mary Laine, who has been CVGM’s manager for approximately eight years, about the changes. Laine informed me that both Logan City and Cache County are huge fans of the Market. Laine told me how city and county officials were pro-active in their desire to see the Market moved to a more centralized location.

But, this is Cache Valley—thus, there will be complaints about any changes to anything. Some people on social media complained that the Courthouse does not have enough parking. Whaaaaa? There is nothing but parking around there! Those who say otherwise might want to pry the cell phone from their faces when driving by that location and notice that parking is not an issue.

Shade? You had to cross the street at Willow Park to find the trees. The tents were out in the open. Also, the Courthouse and the adjacent county office building will both be open if anyone needs to get out of the sun. And both buildings have bathrooms…a huge upgrade from the omnipresent urine smell in the restrooms at Willow Park…which were also not close.

Laine informed me the city and county are open to the possibility of providing benches for people to sit down and eat from the many prepared food vendors expected at the new location. Details about location of a live music “stage” were not discussed; but it would not be the Market without hearing a capella, bluegrass, acoustic guitar and every other type of music that has become a staple of Saturdays in Cache Valley.

That leaves one complaint: there is no playground for kids to be entertained. Two word answer from me: boo hoo.

If there is one thing that really annoys me to no end, it is that people in these parts believe that they have to take their snotty little brats everywhere with them. I think it is great for parents to indoctrinate their kids into the Church of Local Markets; however, given the many favorables that a central location provides for the Market, I really do not care if Jadyn and Hayli have a plastic jungle gym to jump on whilst screaming their pretty little heads off.

I asked Mary Laine about this complaint. She said ideas are being bandied about as how to entertain children who come with their parents to the Market. Like myself, Laine comes from a big city environment. We joked about how when we were young all we needed to find recreational stimuli was a “ball and a wall.” Today’s kids lack gruff.

The CVGM should be downtown. It should be in the hub of activity–and that is the problem! Logan does not have a hub of activity! A noticeable amount of lots on Main Street are unoccupied. Does so much of the money spent in this valley really go to Wal-Mart and the other big chains? Are the rents too high closer to Center and Main? Or is Logan an exemplar of how walk-in retail shopping is as dead as VCRs? One stroll through the ghost town that is the Cache Valley Mall can tell you that owning a business in Cache Valley is a temerariously risky proposition.

The Market should be a part of the area that needs it most…and vice versa. When I spoke to Mary Laine, she intimated to me that the one benefit of the Willow Park venue the past two years was that a wholly new demographic appeared to show up and enjoyed what the Market had to offer. If they follow the Market to its new location—where the hipsters, intellectuals, hippies and the unfortunately bored will happily make a loyal weekly appearance—the potential for the Market’s growth, as well as the benefits to the surrounding area, could be boundless.

There is already a mass of humanity that likes to show its unique faces around the corner at Church Street and Federal Avenue. More people in what is supposed to be the vibrant epicenter of commerce for Logan can only help rejuvenate an area that is almost completely devoid of vitality.

May 9th is “Opening Day” for the Market. It is an event that allows all of us to take a walk through the center of town. It allows us all to feel good about supporting local businesses. Say hello to a friend; or, better yet, make new ones.

Logan has earned its reputation as a slumbering town. We here can resemble the Walking Dead as we go through our daily lives. Some events need your support to change Logan’s rather austere reputation. Cultural events are one method to change how we are viewed. The bi-monthly Gallery Walk is one such event. The Cache Valley Gardeners’ Market is another.

When May comes around, bring some cash down to the center of town on Saturdays. Walk the Market, and then rediscover the businesses that would love to see your handsome faces come through their doors. Everyone is invited.

And there is parking. Lots of parking.

By Staff