With the winter doldrums behind us, it is presumably a strategic time to look into the planning of summertime events, such as a graduation open house, a milestone birthday party, a retirement celebration, or the perfect wedding. Locally, there are many venues to choose from that will indeed satisfy any theme or size of group to meet any budget. While the traditional banquet hall naturally comes into initial discussions, there is another local venue that in just two years of existence is rapidly gaining in popularity primarily due to its unique setting and word-of-mouth rave reviews; it is our own Flint Farmers’ Market!
Surprised? Janell Baumgart isn’t. As the events manager for the Flint Farmers’ Market, she has the responsibility of scheduling and coordinating all events at the Market, a responsibility that has rapidly increased since the Market has occupied its new location.
Baumgart is very connected to the Market’s ever-increasing event activity and says, “How truly honored and fortunate the Market feels to be able to open up our building for private events for folks around the city as well as surrounding suburbs. It is very humbling that families choose to spend some of their most memorable moments right here at the Flint Farmers’ Market.”
Baumgart has been with the Flint Farmers’ Market since the summer of 2013 and was part of the new Market location transition team. She clearly recalls the old location was very limited on space and could conduct only summertime events with those events being restricted under a tent.
“When the new building was in the planning stages, events were not a high priority,” she remembers. “The facility’s main purpose was to provide a home to farmers, new business entrepreneurs and be a true center for health in our community.” She readily admits nobody foresaw the events would catch on and succeed as they have today.
During the Market’s first year in its new location at 300 E. First St. (site of the old Flint Journal press building), the main events from the previous location were kept, such as the Barbecue Cook-Off and Flower Days. Baumgart reasons being in the new location attracted more people due in part to its proximity to the downtown business area. She initially rented out the Ramsdell Room, a 2,520-square-foot space, because it had professional audiovisual equipment available. Since there is not a downtown meeting space of this size, many of the businesses, for example, the Crim Fitness Foundation and Hurley Medical Center, utilized the Ramsdell Room for meetings, as it is very convenient and provides the capability of having lunch in the same facility.
As a result, Baumgart mentioned she started receiving rental inquiries and slowly began booking the Market for high school graduation open houses. She soon noticed many people followed up with emails giving glowing compliments. From there, she started taking deposits for anniversary parties, children’s birthday parties, retirement parties – basically, any themed party imaginable. Baumgart publicizes it is a great experience renting the Market as weddings have become very popular recently.
However, she is quick to point out, “If you are looking for a typical banquet space, the Market is not for you. After all, this is still a market. But if you want something nontraditional and memorable, the Flint Farmers’ Market can deliver!” While the capacity for weddings is up to 200 people, a full Market rental for public events can readily oblige up to 1,200 people. It includes the exclusive use of the Ramsdell Room, the 2,640-square-foot atrium, the 2nd floor and rooftop terrace area along with access to the Market Tap room serving its fine selection of craft beers and ciders.
Baumgart asserts they can accommodate any rental request as evidenced by a past Food, Beer & Wine event sponsored by Townsquare Media. It coincidentally occurred on the same day as the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University football game. Townsquare organizers brought in actual grass sod that covered most of the entire atrium area, giving a genuine backyard feel to the event, including street-style lamp posts and yard games, all culminating in a mammoth video screen.
When it comes to the execution of most of the events, the Market has a great partnership with Townsquare Media, Cumulus Media and Black Tie Productions, all local companies. And for the past two years, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has joined the Market’s partners to help present one of the most popular and entertaining New Year’s Eve celebrations in the area, known as the Flinttown Countdown. For the 2017 event, two live, local bands performed in the Ramsdell Room while a DJ entertained in the atrium. There was seating around the atrium as some of the Market’s vendors, such as B-Dogs and MaMang, served food while the local Domino’s brought in pizza. The second-floor Market Tap room featured a full bar and highlighted Michigan’s finest beer, wine and spirits. The Market Tap, of note, is owned and operated by Blackstone’s, ensuring top-quality beverage and culinary fare. In addition to the video screens in the Ramsdell Room, a huge portable video screen was positioned for all Flinttown Countdown guests to watch the famous Times Square New Year’s Eve countdown and ball drop. Additionally, the DDA sponsored a fireworks show only a block away, giving prime viewing for everybody at the event.
Baumgart adds the attendees’ wardrobe ranged from jeans and T-shirts to formal tuxedos and gowns. “There was an ideal mix of attire where nobody felt uncomfortable,” she says. With overwhelming positive feedback from the 450 people who attended, she is already working on better things for the 2018 New Year’s Eve celebration.
While Baumgart continues to schedule events, she points out the regular schedule of activities that can be found on the Market’s website. As an example, cooking classes are scheduled approximately twice monthly and conducted by the Market’s culinary director, Chef Sean Gartland, and his Feast Cooking School. These informative and fun classes are held in the Market’s specifically designed demonstration kitchen and can accommodate private group cooking classes too.
She also is aware that all the success of the events is primarily due to the exceptional cooperation among her team of Market personnel. “I am blessed to work with the best of the best when it comes to event operations and logistics,” she says. “Even in the summer when our events are in full swing, many of us work the normal market day on Saturday, then come back in the evening for cleaning and setup for the Sunday parties. I just can’t say enough about them. We truly operate as team and are always there to make sure nothing is left on one person’s shoulders.”
FLINT FARMERS’ MARKET UPCOMING EVENT HIGHLIGHTS
Comedy Night – once a month
Flower Daze, May 20 & 27
Flint Feastival, June 10
Edible Flint Garden Tour, July 26
Flint Local 432 Mixdown Fundraiser,
Oct 13, & Halloween Party, Oct 21
NYE Party, Dec 31
For a complete listing
of monthly events, visit