Dudley puts down gavel but not shovel

KINGSTON — Next summer, Cindi Dudley will definitely be at the Kingston Farmers Market, but she’ll be wearing one hat instead of two — that of a vendor.

Instead of running meetings, signing off on financial papers and writing up meeting agendas, she’ll simply be selling her fresh-from-the-garden basil and lettuce from beneath her green garden umbrella.

Which is just fine with her.

Dudley stepped down from the position of KFM board president in July, citing the need for a change for herself and for the market. She did it in the middle of the season to allow herself to slowly switch gears from president to vendor. She also did it so she had plenty of time to prepare for her full-time job as an occupational therapist for David Wolfle Elementary and Kingston Junior High School and the assistive technology coordinator for North Kitsap School District.

“I’m looking forward to being just a vendor,” she said, but, “(my husband) Clint keeps reminding me I need to let go.”

She made the announcement at the market’s board meeting in July but it wasn’t unexpected. The board members, she said, knew she was stressed out. Dudley had talked about resigning before but they wouldn’t let her.

“This time, I’m serious,” she said with a chuckle.

Dudley said she did a lot of soul searching this summer and with the stress of work, she realized she needed to step back and focus on her career.

“Giving up something that meant so much to Clint and I was really a tough decision,” she said.

But she sees it as a good change for the market as the board seeks a new leader; she would like to see that person pursue grants to help expand the market’s financial base.

“I think the market is in a good place to move on,” she said.

The Port Townsend market is a good example of how a market can grow into a professional entity, she explained. Dudley believes the Kingston market could do the same as it needs to grow with the area’s increasing population and demands.

She feels the greatest accomplishment, but also the biggest challenge, during her tenure was increasing the amount of produce at the market. The larger challenge was dealing with the fact that more recently, the market had to bring in produce from outside the region to help balance the market’s produce/craft ratio. But while customers are happy to see the produce at the KFM, there was still a lot of it being packed up at the end of the day.

“We have to keep the customers coming,” she said.

Another major accomplishment was establishing this year’s Wednesday market in Hansville, the vendors of which promise to return again next year.

“They all loved it,” Dudley said. “The vendors are doing well enough that they think it’s worthwhile.”

Her most memorable moments include the annual berry pie contests, the musical entertainment and when the market’s float earned the most patriotic award in the Fourth of July parade during her first year as president in 2000.

“That was such a thrill,” she said.

Even after six years of being a vendor and five years as the president, Dudley is continually impressed with the fact that the sun always seems shine over Mike Wallace Memorial Park during market day.

“It’s so gorgeous down there,” she said. “That’s quintessential Kingston, in my mind.”

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