Windmill ‘put the life back in Yates County’

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express
Special plaques were made by a Windmill vendor and presented to (from left) Windmill Board President Jeff Squires, Sperry Navone of Assemblyman Phil Palmesano’s office, Pat Gunderman, New York Commissioner of Agriculture & Markets Richard Ball, and Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike.

When the Windmill Farm & Craft Market opened 30 years ago, Yates County Deputies were called on to manage the traffic back-up that resulted from all the eager shoppers lining Route 14A.

The deputies may have changed, but the situation was the same Aug. 26 when the popular market celebrated its anniversary with special promotions, live music, a special program, dedication of a pavilion to Pat Gunderman, and the return of several original vendors.

Among the visitors for the day was New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, who commended the market and said any time farmers are able to interact face to face with customers it’s a benefit for all.

Commenting on the honor of having the pavilion dedicated in her name, Gunderman recalled many of the important milestones in the market’s development and expansion over the years. The first meeting to discuss the concept of a Farmer’s Market was held in February 1986, when 80 people showed up to learn more. A 1987 barn raising started the first building, and before long, the second building was up and the property was developed so the market could open June 27, 1987 with 64 vendors inside the buildings and 25 outside.

Gunderman was a vendor at the market for nine years. She served as the first president, a director, treasurer, and market manager. “My heart is still here,” she said, adding as she scanned the crowd of shoppers, “This is what the founders hoped would happen. It put the life back in Yates County. It was not easy to get the Windmill off the ground, but it was definitely worth it.”