BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Dozens of people filled the plaza on McCamly Street for the weekly farmers market. Shoppers bounced from table to table buying everything: shiny vegetables, colorful bouquets and even firewood pizza. And if they wanted to learn about the city’s infrastructure they dashed through the heavy rain and went inside Kellogg Arena.
“We were a little stressed this morning trying to figure out what to do following the weather,” said Communications Manager Jessica VanderKolk with the City of Battle Creek. “But it turned out to be fine. The humidity outside also helped with moving it in.”
As storms ripped through town, city officials decided to move their annual fair indoors. It’s typically held outside. The city’s various departments -- from human resources to public safety -- sets up booths next to the farmers' tables. But because of the bad weather, they moved their tables into an arena. And VanderKolk said foot traffic didn't slow down.
“Sometimes it can be a little intimidating coming down to City Hall,” said Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing. “So this gives folks an opportunity to come out and engage with the various departments of the city in a way that allows us to just casually answer questions.”
Dearing said it was ‘great’ interacting with the visitors. Children petted Bruiser the Police dog and honked the horn on the construction vehicles. The adults played a little bit too, either Jenga or Connect Four with the city staff members. Some even asked about employment.
“People can check out what job openings we have right now,” said VanderKolk. “And everybody applies online now. So they’ve got their laptop here and you can see how to apply, check out the applications.”
The annual event wrapped after a few short hours. However city officials considered it a success with the crowds of people that attended despite the rain. Dearing said the whole point of it was to build a sense of community between the city offices and the residents.
“Ultimately we serve the public," said Dearing. "This is a great way to connect with them.”