Downtown

The Downtown Farmers Market takes place each Saturday through the end of October.

The Downtown Farmers Market will start the 23rd season without a permanent manager.

Shane Laib, who has led the market since 2015 under the operation of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, is no longer with the Foundation, the operation said.

Laib’s sudden departure came Monday. He declined to comment on it. Foundation board President Paul Schneidmiller did not provide a reason for the split and said the organization does not discuss personnel matters publicly.

“We wish Shane well,” Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Bowton added.

Bowton will preside over the market, which opens in just two weeks.

The opening at Fourth Avenue and Main Street, behind City Hall, is slated for May 4.

It follows a record year for sales for the market under Laib’s direction.

Sales last year reached $600,950, in the first time they reached the half-million-dollar mark. The previous high had come in 2017 at $487,000 in sales. Last year’s market operated 26 days and had 67 participating vendors.

Laib also is president of the Washington Farmers Market Association. That group, in its 40th year, held its annual conference in Walla Walla last month.

Bowton said a search for a new market manager and membership manager is in the works. Details continue to be developed on the logistics of finding a successor as the market season unfolds.

The Downtown Farmers Market operates Saturdays from May through October with products from growers, artisans and fresh food vendors.

Laib had been removed as a contact and staff member on the nonprofit website as of this morning.

He joined the Foundation in 2015 under then-Executive Director Elio Agostini. Laib succeeded Cheryl Thyken in the position.

A former Walla Walla City Council member who served two terms in Position 3 starting in 2006, Laib previously worked as senior manager of operations for Walla Walla Sweets Baseball.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, vickihillhouse@wwub.com or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/VickiHillhouse.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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