The fencing went up the day before. Entry gates were put in place. 

The streets, normally access routes to the areas fenced in, were closed off. Traffic was rerouted away from the area around the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center’s grounds, as well as Gavilan College Playhouse buildings. The facility’s parking lots were rendered inaccessible, even to persons with handicap plackets. 

The parking garage was full. Security men in red shirts patrolled the areas. Nothing would get past them. 

But for this seemingly minor disruption to a normal Saturday routine, there was much to offer, the festival’s venues spilling over into the adjacent streets, some blocking entry onto Monterey Road. Permission had been granted to the organizers, Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras, Inc. 

The plan was in place. Everything was set for the rebranded Mushroom Festival. It promised to be a good day for the sponsors and the many who came to Morgan Hill on Saturday the 25th of May, 2024. 

And yes it was a good day, but not for everyone.

Not for the men and women, the farmers who come weekly to the Farmer’s Market. These humble people rose in the pre-dawn hours to pick their precious and perishable cargo, box it up, and load it into their trucks and vans to set off to Morgan Hill. 

In the still of the night they made their way from Fresno, Modesto, Hollister, the Coastal towns, and the Central Valley to reach their familiar Saturday home in the parking lot adjacent to the Train Park in Morgan Hill where the market is held. 

Arriving, they unloaded, and got to work setting up their stalls with bright and verdant greens, fruits and vegetables of various shapes and sizes, sparkling, golden yellow and ruby red, some still wet, holding the earth from which they came within their roots. It was going to be a good day serving the community at this market where they showed up every week, rain or shine, in heat or freezing temperatures because this is their life and their livelihood. 

But it wasn’t a good day, not for these people. 

Few patrons came to buy the vendors’ goods. Because of the closures there was little access to the Farmer’s Market for the people who regularly patronized it. No place to park. Too long a walk from the outskirts of town. Some returned home empty-handed.

And what about these faithful, hopeful, good people, the vendors who did the work on our behalf? Their precious and perishable goods sat untouched where they had been placed hours earlier. They waited for the crowds that never came. Some grew despondent realizing they were going to take a big loss both in produce and in profits. 

This was not their fault. Nor was it the fault of the weather or a natural disaster. But they would pay the price. Why? Were they forewarned about the Mushroom Festival? Given options? Stay home. Bring less. According to those I spoke with, no, they were not aware of the fate that was handed them last Saturday. They showed up. Their loyalty to us cost them.

The City of Morgan Hill and the festival organizers bear the responsibility for their actions. The Farmer’s Market vendors were given little or no thought. Shame on us Morgan Hill. 

As a way of compensation, I recommend that a generous stipend be given to each vendor who showed up for us at the Farmer’s Market when we didn’t show up for them. And it goes without saying, a big apology is owed to them. 

Let’s get our priorities in order. We are a compassionate community. We are better than this, Morgan Hill. We are so much better. Oh, and one more thing.  Please. Never, ever, ever do that again. Ever. 

Marianne Knight

Morgan Hill

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