LEROY, Minn. – Just as it does every Thursday, the Le Roy Farmers’ Market will take place in its usual spot on Main Street. But this week’s market is going to be a little different.
“It’s going to be a tough day,” Kathleen Whalen, a Farmers’ Market board member, said.
The market and board lost its founding member, Dave Perkins, earlier this week. He died suddenly at the age of 71.
Perkins, known as the ‘father of the market’, started the weekly event a few years ago when he purchased a lot on Main Street.
“He kind of went around the community and asked everybody what can we do with this lot,” Axel Gumbel, Farmers’ Market board member, said. “And that’s how the idea of a farmers’ market started.”
Gumbel said Perkins put a lot of care into the market, even sweeping up puddles so visitors wouldn’t have to walk through water. But his care for the community extended beyond the farmers’ market lot.
The friends said he did everything from fixing up local buildings to mentoring local youth, to even buying flowers for moms in the community on Mother’s Day.
“Dave was always very community oriented,” Gumbel said. “He never wanted the limelight but always wanted to shine a light on the community.”
His passing not only leaves a hole in their hearts, but also questions of where to go from here.
In addition to owning the land the market takes place on, Perkins had individual relationships with the market vendors.
“Whether we can come back to this lot, we’re not sure,” Gumbel said.
“We’re just going to respect the family and give them some time and space,” Annette Kiefer, also a Farmer’s Market Board member said.
A black sheet covers the community market sign, but board members said it’s no question the summer staple will continue.
“Grief can be public or personal, and we just chose to keep on going because that's what Dave would've wanted and it's a way of coping with this sad situation,” Gumbel said.
With Perkin’s family’s approval, this Thursday’s market will be held at the usual lot from 4-7pm. It will have a memorial booth for people to remember Dave and give condolences to his family.
In the weeks to follow, the market will be held at the Le Roy Community Center. To learn more about the community market, click here.