Oro Valley farmers market destroyed, police still looking for suspect

Published: Jul. 22, 2023 at 11:13 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Authorities are looking for a driver who damaged a pergola at the Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley, destroying the structure and impacting business for the weekly farmer’s market

Heirloom Farmer’s Market has been operating out of Oro Valley since 2004, but nothing has stricken business quite like this. The incident was believed to have happened on Thursday evening when a vehicle drove recklessly around the grounds at the Steam Pump Ranch.

The farmer’s market was held today, but the number of vendors and customers was much lower than usual. One vendor, Elizabeth Robb, says the heat didn’t help either.

“Wasn’t too bad because we were overcast, so it was cool and wasn’t horrible. But once the sun came out, the customers just evaporated, and I don’t blame them in the slightest,” said Robb. She owns and operates Elizabeth’s Garden, usually selling fresh eggs and poultry.

“They didn’t come, or they didn’t stay long.”

Operating her stand with the damage is stressful on its own, but when combined with the heat, business takes an unexpected turn.

To cool customers off during the summer months, the pergola used misters and provided shade to shoppers. But with much of the pergola destroyed, customers won’t want to stand in the hot sun while shopping for their goods.

Venders also have to deal with the damage and extra heat now too. Today, a third of the vendors didn’t show up. Usually, there are 35 vendors on Saturday mornings selling their products.

“It’s a farmer’s market, we’re outdoors anyway, so we kind of expect it to be a little miserable, but we lost a really nice, fabulous market,” Robb said.

“We had one of the best markets there was for customer experience, and now we’re left with a basic, outdoor, miserable Tucson experience.”

Because of the misting and lighting materials that were damaged during the incident, repairs are expected to take months before completion. Robb says she doesn’t plan to leave the market, even if it means working right next to the debris.

But she also hopes to have the farmers market back to normal soon.

“I’m hoping they get it done quickly. If they can do it in a month or two that’d be fabulous, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Robb said. “They’re waiting for the insurance to go through first and that’s going to take a while.”

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