- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - A decision to exclude some vendors from a popular farmers market in downtown Cedar Falls has prompted complaints that event organizers are limiting competition.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports hog farmer Carl Blake complained Monday night to the Cedar Falls City Council and asked officials to investigate why he and others had repeatedly been denied the chance to join the market.

Blake, who has been featured on national TV and newspaper reports about his award-winning pigs, said market officials claim there isn’t room, but others argued there is plenty of extra space.

“We have an organization that’s preventing farmers from coming in and selling,” Blake said. “It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Coffee roaster Jed Vander Zanden said he was told the same thing in summer 2012. Since then, he’s opened a popular cafe on College Hill.

“They said, ‘We already have a coffee person,” Vander Zanden said. “The overall message was they didn’t want competition at the market.”

Market representatives didn’t return requests to comment.

Rachel Wobeter, a local food program manager at the University of Northern Iowa, said she set up a College Hill farmers market because of interest in the neighborhood. She was surprised that many vendors who participated were those denied a spot at the downtown market.

“I hear lots of stories of how people are not allowed into the market,” she said.

Blake and Kamyar Enshayan, director of UNI’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, said that since the market is on public property, it should allow more vendors or move to private property.

The council asked city staff to investigate the matter.

The downtown market is set to begin Saturday morning.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com