Market opener

On a perfect Saturday morning, a large crowd turned out for the first day of the Downtown Farmers Market in Walla Walla.

The Downtown Walla Walla Foundation has announced a new manager for the Downtown Farmers Market.

Alex Heiser is the organization’s new membership and market manager, transitioning from grapes after five years as tasting room manager at Sinclair Estate Vineyards.

His appointment was announced Tuesday, although he had already been hired late last week and started in the position with his first market last Saturday, Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Bowton said.

Heiser has been a volunteer through the Foundation and had already been helping with the first five markets of the season.

“Vendors knew him and were notified. They were all very excited to congratulate him,” Bowton said.

Heiser succeeds Shane Laib, whose abrupt departure with the Foundation came two weeks before the first market of the season after four years with the organization.

The position not only includes running the market every Saturday from May through October but also entails membership and communication to merchants and partners of the downtown area. Heiser’s work will include collaboration in the three-person office on quarterly membership meetings as well as a monthly newsletter.

This is the 23rd season for the Downtown Farmers Market.

Bowton said Heiser was selected from a field of more than 20 applicants, including two from outside the area.

A Walla Walla native who grew up here, Heiser graduated from Whitworth University in Spokane. He has a bachelor’s in education and an

associate degree in enology and viticulture from Walla Walla Community College.

He spent 15 years living in Alaska, where he worked 13 years for Waterfall Resort and another two for the city of Ketchikan before returning to Walla Walla. He had been with Sinclair Estates since 2014 before it closed this year.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

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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