Episode 70

Published on:

7th Mar 2023

The Future of the West Bend Farmer's Market with Gena Biertzer of the DWBA

Downtown West Bend is home to many great events each year. With the Downtown Main Street Reconstruction Project starting this spring, a number of the events are going to be displaced for the 2023 season.

Gena Biertzer from the Downtown West Bend Association joins me on this week's episode to talk about a number of this year's events, including what is going to happen with this year's Music on Main and the West Bend Farmer's Market.

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Fuzz Martin 0:00

Oh, hey, friends, I'm Fuzz. This is Fifteen Minutes with me. If you're speaking in first person, if you're speaking in third person, it's Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. And my wife's in the studio with me right now. And she thinks I'm a weirdo. Because I am, I hope you're doing fabulous. You deserve to be.

Fuzz Martin 0:27


Fuzz Martin 1:20

ing to be slightly altered in:

Fuzz Martin 2:13

Gena, thank you for coming on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz today. So I want to start here. There are a number of different organizations in West Bend. We have the West Bend Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Improvement District, West Bend Specialty Shops and the Downtown West Bend Association. Can you kind of give us a lay of the land of what each of those is kind of responsible for and then eventually, where Downtown West Bend Association falls in place?

Gena Biertzer 2:41

Sure. Absolutely. And thanks for having me on today. The West Bend Chamber, we'll start with that the West Bend Chamber is more responsible for working closer with the businesses, generally throughout the entire West Bend and Washington County area, the BID district which is the Downtown Business Improvement District, that is a area right in downtown, which is governed by the city, okay. And that area has its own board of directors and their main goals, I think touch on more infrastructure, okay, and having things downtown such as the bike racks or planters and stuff like that. Sure. The West Bend Specialty Shops is a group of retailers within the community. And generally downtown there are some in Barton and elsewhere. And that group is strictly a retailers group that has come together to kind of help organize shopping events and fun activities for people.

Gena Biertzer 3:47

ization has been around since:

Fuzz Martin 4:45

So it kind of helps everybody work together. And then as we say the rising tide raises all ships right. Oh. So the Downtown West Bend Association been around for a long time and it really helps you know, these events and things help bring people into the down have an area which then hopefully support the local shops right

Gena Biertzer 5:03

keeps a vibrant down here. You know, one other thing that downtown does do is we also help with the bars. So, with the bars and restaurants we also run a similar program as the West Bend Specialty Shops. So I meet with the bars and restaurants once a month, I meet with the retailer's once a month. We all work on great marketing opportunities together, and just collaboratively. We all get in and, and have a great time with what we can all do down here.

Fuzz Martin 5:29

Yeah, and there are definitely some great restaurants and bars downtown.

Gena Biertzer 5:32

What's been amazing downtown, I really I'm sorry, I'm maybe biased, but

Fuzz Martin 5:37

It's okay to be biased. It's okay to be biased. We love it. And we're glad to see that this is a vibrant area. And we're technically downtown here at EPIC as well. So when we're here, we're running down downtown to get lunches and things like that. How did you yourself get involved with the Downtown West Bend Association,

Gena Biertzer 5:55

I was a business owner within the community. And I was a downtown business owner and I was pretty involved with the West Bend Specialty Shops and I joined the promotions committee with the downtown and then joined the board of directors. The position came open and I said you know what? Let's change gears. Let's put on events.

Fuzz Martin 6:16

How long have you been in this role? Now?

Gena Biertzer 6:18

It has been about a year and a half. Okay. very new, very new.

Fuzz Martin 6:24

What are you enjoying most about your role?

Gena Biertzer 6:27

Honestly, all the people, okay, I have a job that just makes people happy. Do I make people happy? I invite them to these amazing events we put on? We just did Chocolate Around the Bend. A few weeks ago, 1,000s of people were on the streets and everybody was here. How could you not be here?

Fuzz Martin 6:46

I was so surprised to hear how many people came to chocolate around the bend dad tell me. For those who weren't able to experience it. What happened at that event?

Gena Biertzer 6:55

I'll be honest, the event is about five years old. It's actually about eight years old. Okay, really nice. It had been an event put on by just the West Bend Specialties. Okay, so the downtown, kind of assuming our role in their marketing, decided to change things up. We did punch cards, so you had to go to the bend and get a punch card. And then you were able to go to 15 shops who all had chocolates waiting for you. And every shop, you punched your card, and then you hand it in at the end. And we had amazing prizes. I mean, just amazing gift baskets from some wonderful places downtown. And we literally had over 1,000 punch cards go out.

Fuzz Martin 7:34

Oh, wow. So that is, is that in February?

Gena Biertzer 7:38

February 11. And yes, now it's definitely going to be a huge annual. We're actually already looking at the new chocolates.

Fuzz Martin 7:45

All right. Well, we'll keep an eye out for that for for next year. Maybe we'll get some chocolates up here and make people walk all the way up the hill.

Gena Biertzer 7:51

They come right to conversation piece.

Fuzz Martin 7:53

Oh, yeah, there we go. So maybe, maybe we'll make that happen. And maybe I'll just eat the profits. For perfect. I mean, what what's the point of doing all this Gena? If you can't partake in the fun, right?

Gena Biertzer 8:09

Absolutely. Sometimes a little bit too much.

Fuzz Martin 8:12

Speaking of the fun you guys have besides that, that event, you have a ton of events that the Downtown West Bend Association is responsible for it. Can you talk about some of those different events that go on throughout the year? Sure. Absolutely.

Gena Biertzer 8:25

So we do have their wine walks, which are great events for the community. One is coming up on April 1. We have

Fuzz Martin 8:32

what is that one? Sorry. How can people find more about that wine walk?

Gena Biertzer 8:37

It's called the wine half. Okay. And it is April 1, I get it because of Easter. Right? Yeah, so it's happened around downtown. And so you can take a look at our website and for all of these events, please go to downtownwestbend.com. Okay, check out the events, check out the Community Calendar. I'm just going to plug that in that community calendar is meant for all of West Bend. Great, so you will never be bored in West Bend. Perfect. Everything is on there.

Fuzz Martin 9:01

So this goes all back to that tourism thing. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. But yeah, that was I didn't know that the the Wine Hop was coming up. And that's kind of fun.

Gena Biertzer 9:11

The Wine Hop is coming up tickets are on sale right now. So please go to downtown whispering.com and get your tickets VIPs are already sold out. I'm sorry. You got an hour early and some fun giveaways with that. But you have three more hours left. So please sign up today. We have the artwork banner project coming up. And that is a super amazing event because it provides so so many wonderful things for non panic gives students from all the different schools and opportunity to show off their art teachers use it as their curriculum throughout the year. Sure, super cool. But our Grand Gallery open for that will be May 6. And if anybody would like to sponsor a banner, please give us a call downtown because we do have 30 Banners this year that we'll be putting up along Sixth Avenue due to the road construction,

Fuzz Martin:

the gallery is that is that just the street is considered the galleries that are a specific place where that happens. The

Gena Biertzer:

Grand Gallery is actually a MOWA. So by coming in, you're going to be able to enjoy all of MOWA. Okay, you'll be able to enjoy the Grand Gallery, you'll meet the artists, other sponsors can meet each other there, we'll have a nice jazz band go. Or d'oeuvres are there. It's just it's a great event. So if you can make it it'll be 3:30 to 6:30 on May 6, okay, but again, on our website. Sure. One of the other events we have is our wheels on main events. One of the largest events we do every year because of the downtown West Bend road construction. We do have to change the location. Okay, so for one year only temporary one year only, it'll be at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

Fuzz Martin:

Okay. Yeah. So, so that that's is that an October?

Gena Biertzer:

That one is September 3, from 7am. to about 4p. We will be asking if anybody wants to be a crafter or have a craft stand, bring your cars, it's 10 bucks to get in. Great event for the kids. Food. Everything will be there. And as of nine o'clock last night, we have been approved for Fall Fest. Okay, great, which is the kids event. And guess what? It's back on Main Street. Oh, sweet. That will be back on Main Street. And that will be on October 27. It's Friday, October 27. From 5 to 7p.

Fuzz Martin:

That's the day that the project supposed to be done. Right?

Gena Biertzer:

It is. It is. We might be out there sweeping them up. But let's get out of here. Get ready for you. (Scootch) So, yeah. And again, great event we usually have you know, 1000 plus kids show up. We'll have some music. We have lots of games going on. And I want to say almost all of the downtown businesses participate. Sure. It's a great event. Yeah. And then in November, we're gonna have our Witch Way Wine Walk, and then

Fuzz Martin:

probably still get VIP tickets. Like when when that goes on sale.

Gena Biertzer:

Get on for that one. Because it's so much fun. Everybody dresses up. It's definitely we wanted to dress up, which is an Warlocks kind of theme. And I understand it's after Halloween. Okay, so do not put away your costume. Yes,

Fuzz Martin:

good reason to keep that I think one of my neighbors still has their Halloween decorations up yet. So I think they're already pre planning for this year.

Gena Biertzer:

So make sure you get to that. And then at the very end of the year, we have our West Bend Winter Warm Up. Okay, check for that.

Fuzz Martin:

So two big ones this year. So we've got the downtown Main Street reconstruction project, which everybody knows about, and that is coming up very soon. But so are the Music on Main and Farmers Market, which will be directly affected by this. Okay, let's talk about music. I mean, first, even though it starts after Farmers Market, let's just focus on there for a moment. How does the downtown reconstruction, Main Street reconstruction project affect Music on Main, this year, it

Gena Biertzer:

affects it quite a bit in the sense that we have to change our location. Okay, but we will still have all the same great bands, we will still have a beer tent, we will still have food every night for you. We'll still have our new famous drinks on us cards available. So we're still gonna have all the same amount of fun. We just have to move one year temporary, temporary is my new word.

Fuzz Martin:

You're not moving that far away, though. For this one year, though, right?

Gena Biertzer:

Right, it's two blocks over will will be on six than walnut, which is radio by your office to hear the music,

Fuzz Martin:

Our CFO Lisa, she has the window that's all the way to the north of our building. And she said I cannot wait to open my window and listen to the music from my office. And she's like, I'll probably step out and get a beer or two and then come back. Absolutely.

Gena Biertzer:

Look for me. We'll get her one sounds great. So that's exciting. Our bands are listed on our website, click on Events go out to music and main click there. The lineup is there. The sponsors are all listed there. Thank you to all those sponsors. And then we also have our highlight organizations. So when you tip the bartenders at music on Main, your tip is to highlight organization. Great. So for that night, those tips I'll be given are given to those organizations. When does Music on Main start? It starts on June 1, and it's on Thursdays. Right? It's every Thursday. And it's the the main band starts at 6:30, okay, something new this year, we're working with the Music Academy and some of their students who will be playing from five to six. And that will be listed on our website as the students are ready and signed up for that. So again,

Fuzz Martin:

that's on Sixth Avenue Avenue this year across from the library in that parking lot. Is that correct? That is correct. Perfect. Cool. Okay, so that's Music on Main. And then the big one that I asked you to come in here to talk about. But there's so many cool things going on. And this is great. But last but not least, the Farmers Market. Obviously, with downtown reconstruction, the farmers market is going to need a temporary change of venue as well. So what are we expecting this year for the Farmers Market,

Gena Biertzer:

The Farmers Market is still going to be fabulous. That's what we're expecting. But we really haven't seen a lot of change in our vendors. So we're pretty excited to announce that almost all the vendors are returning. I think one out of all 90 is not but that's because they chose to retire with nothing to do with relocation. We're excited to say that it will be on Sixth Avenue right here in front of epic. It will also be on Poplar Street. If you're familiar with the Orville, it'll be right there. And then it will be on Fifth Avenue,

Fuzz Martin:

And kind of a horseshoe around with the Tower and the Tower

Gena Biertzer:

Heritage community center. Some of you may know that as the Washington County History Museum, yeah, it's gonna be pretty exciting. Everything will be on the streets like a normal farmers market, same food, same vendors that you're used to and love. And then we will have positions available for all of our downtown businesses to come and have a free booth. They can still continue. So everybody knows they're all still open.

Fuzz Martin:

Great. Our our booth will be our buildings. It will be right here. I'll just have my own prime parking ethics for the farmers market this year. That'll be my booth enough for me. West Bend's Farmers Market it is pretty renowned, right? I mean, people people love this. Yeah.

Gena Biertzer:

So a little little history on the market. The Farmers Market has been around since 1978.

Fuzz Martin:

So have I!

Gena Biertzer:

I've been many years before that.

Fuzz Martin:

Well, this wasn't meant to be that kind of conversation.

Gena Biertzer:

I I'm very proud to say that we really built a great, great Farmers Market and all to all the people that have worked here before me, I applaud them for all the efforts they've put in. And as of last year, we went on a little mission to find out which market was the best. And we were voted Wisconsin's number one market.

Fuzz Martin:

Wow, that's awesome. Congratulations. That's a big feat. Because there are a ton of Farmers Markets in Wisconsin, it's huge.

Gena Biertzer:

But even kind of I don't know if it's cooler, not but we were also voted the number five in the Midwest. Oh, wow. Okay. And number 18 in the nation in

Fuzz Martin:

the nation. So, top 20 West Bend downtown West Bend Farmers Market 2022. That's amazing. Congratulations. That's really cool. It's sweet that it's right here and easy for all of us to come and enjoy every weekend. And so it's it's free to get in right?

Gena Biertzer:

Free to get in. We'll still have great live entertainment, we'll have three different entertainers every single week, some of the newer things that we're incorporating into the market this year. One is educational booths. Okay, it's a huge thing that we've wanted to get involved in for years, we've partnered up with UW Extension here in Washington County, and some of their nutrition center and some of their health department are going to come and be doing weekly informational, as well as some hands on workshops with students younger, older, that's all listed on the Farmer's Market website. Last year, we had some opportunities to do some gardening. And just a lot of other educational opportunities. We're also going to have I think it's three times throughout the season, we have a health and wellness coach here in town, who will be coming and doing tours and talking to people about what foods they should be eating and not what you should be eating.

Fuzz Martin:

But what is good for you sure how to improve your eating habits, things like that,

Gena Biertzer:

and how to cook some of the things that you may not be familiar with, right. And then another thing that we've added this year, working on and continuing to try to grow is our opportunities to make sure that everybody can come to the farmers market. So we're working to build up the WIC and senior nutrition programs. We're working with a lot of our farmers because it takes the farmer to sign up for these programs. And once they do, then people can come. And that just helps everybody in the whole community. As well as the SNAP program. We will work really hard. We began the process last year. It's something that you have to work with a lot of different governmental departments.

Fuzz Martin:

I bet I bet some paperwork involved.

Gena Biertzer:

And so we're hoping that at least by mid season, this year that we will have the SNAP program also. And that just helps everybody be able to come inclusive completely to the market.

Fuzz Martin:

Yeah, that's great that you guys are doing that and you're helping the farmers to get the paperwork they need to in order to process those transactions and things like that and make that accessible to families who need them. Oh, that's awesome.

Gena Biertzer:

Farmers are amazing. We have typically 70 farmers that are strictly produce farmers, some of the other vendors we have, maybe they do coffee or they do you know other things, but are strictly produce or beef farmers or chicken, dairy farmers. Some of them this is their livelihood. This is all they do. We have a few farmers who depend so highly on this market. This is their entire income. So we really want to make sure that it's really about them. It's about the farmers too. Yeah, helping our community is great. But these farmers really need an extra hand to

Fuzz Martin:

Agreed. You know, it's great that this year, despite the reconstruction project, that you're able to find a temporary home to come and make sure that everybody's still able to sell their goods and have this number 18 rated. And hopefully that just keeps going up rated Farmers Market in the United States, right here in our own community. So kudos to you for all the hard work. I know it's a lot of a lot of juggling a lot of meetings, a lot of nights and weekends and all that. So thank you to you for for doing that.

Gena Biertzer:

Thank you very much. We we love our jobs.

Fuzz Martin:

Gena, thank you so much for coming in. And I know you have tons of events coming up. So don't be a stranger. And we can talk about more of these in more detail as they come up. But thanks again for all you do.

Gena Biertzer:

Perfect. Thank you very much for having me. Thank you.

Fuzz Martin:

They thank you again to Gena Biertzer, Executive Director at the Downtown West Bend Association for joining me on today's show. Lots of great things are happening here in West Bend and I can't wait to see how the farmer's market music on Main and all of the other events unfold this year. If you have an idea for a guest in or around Washington County, please let me know there are tons of ways to get in touch. You can email me fifteenwithfuzz@gmail.com. That's fifteen spelled out with fuzz at gmail dot com. You can also go to fuzz.cc/guest or you can you know come up and talk to me if you see me in public. I'm always around. Also, just as a reminder, do me a solid fill out my listener survey at fuzz.cc/survey. New episodes come out on Tuesdays all the episodes are available at fifteenwithfuzz.com and I'll talk to you again next Tuesday. Right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

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About the Podcast

Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz
Showcasing the positive things happening in Washington County, Wisconsin.
Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz is sheds light on all the great things going on in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. The host, Fuzz Martin, is a local business owner (EPIC Creative) and a former radio personality (92.5 WBWI - now Buzz Country). New episodes launch on Tuesday mornings. https://fifteenwithfuzz.com

Whether you're in West Bend, Kewaskum, Slinger, Hartford, Germantown, Richfield, Jackson, or anywhere else in the area, 15 Minutes with Fuzz serves the community with fun and positive people, places, events, and attractions.

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Fuzz Martin

Fuzz Martin is a partner and Chief Strategy Officer at EPIC Creative in West Bend, Wis.