The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market was bustling Saturday morning, and organic vegetables weren’t the only topic of conversation.
Ed Robertson manned the Monroe County Democrats booth behind the Bloomington Coffee Roaster’s busy bar.
The smell of espresso was thick. Across the alley, a vendor at Redbarn Meats peddled 100 percent natural fresh beef.
The political booth was decorated with pro-Democrat signs and featured information about local and state candidates. As Robertson organized plastic bags full of campaign buttons, he said the booth’s materials drew supporters.
“This whole election is about rallying the troops, anyway,” Robertson said.
At other stops along Information Alley on the west side of the market, Democrats and Republicans passed out their messages and a few signs and buttons to interested shoppers.
David Hakken approached the booth, a basket full of corn dangling from his left hand.
“I want a yard sign that says ‘not ready to say uncle yet,’” Hakken said.
He and Robertson discussed the popular pro-GOP sign motto “Had enough? Vote Republican.”
Just down the alley, Jim and Loretta Nelson tended a table with information about state and local Republican candidates. Their spread featured a brochure listing local candidates as well as stickers and yard signs for specific candidates.
One supporter walked away with a “Had enough? Vote Republican” sign.
“We’re just passing out information about local candidates and local issues, and we want to get out the vote,” Loretta Nelson said. “Hopefully, they’ll vote Republican after they become informed.”
Loretta Nelson represented Monroe County Republican Women while Jim Nelson was active in both MCRW and Monroe County Republicans.
Like Robertson, the Nelsons provided voter registration sheets at their table. Those interested took a sheet and returned it to the voter registration office.
The Nelsons stressed the importance of voter turnout during the upcoming election.
They said they were also concerned with bringing a balance back to local offices, such as the county council and commissioners.
“The more people we can meet and talk to, the more excited we get the voters to get them out,” Jim Nelson said. “That’s what’s important.”
Spots in Information Alley cost $10 per week in addition to a $10 registration fee.
The Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department regulates farmers market activities. Groups aren’t allowed to walk through the market when they distribute materials but can stand in the space immediately in front of their booths.
Local candidates were present at Information Alley, as well. A few booths down from the Nelsons, supporters of 9th District Congressional Candidate Shelli Yoder’s campaign had a similar informational spread, including voter registration and information sheets.
“I don’t even care who registers and who they’re going to be voting for,” Yoder supporter Samuel Barbush-Riley said. “I just want people to actually vote.”
Information Alley wasn’t just for those with a particular political choice.
Judge Francie Hill’s re-election campaign station, a lawn table and umbrella decorated with red tinsel, featured brochures, pins, signs and even a photo book with shots of the judge on the campaign trail.
Dolly Van Leeuwen handed out materials at Hill’s booth. She explained that while market rules stipulated she couldn’t approach people who walked by, those who approached the table seemed happy.
“Everybody’s very nice,” Van Leeuwen said. “Really, really nice.”
IU graduate student Chad Carwein passed out information at a booth for the Bloomington Environmental Commission. His spot was between representatives for Democracy for America and Hoosiers for a Common Sense Health Plan.
Carwein said campaigning doesn’t necessarily change the atmosphere at the market.
“There’s definitely more discussion at some of the politically-related booths,” Carwein said.
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