EUGENE, Ore. -- People attending Eugene's Saturday Market may not have noticed any differences with the weekly sales, but on Aug. 17 vendors got a little more than they bargained for when setting up at sunrise.
"You see it, it's pretty busy … but there was an issue last weekend,” said assistant vendor Angie Bartow. “Ya, there was some poop found behind there, but it got cleaned up … it's done and over."
Bartow is talking about nine pieces of human fecal matter being found in a patch of grass on the southeast corner of 8th Avenue and Oak Street, near the Saturday Market food courts.
Kim Still, the manager of market promotions for the Saturday Market, said the City of Eugene fenced off and cleaned the area on Thursday.
This is not the first time that fecal matter was reported near the downtown park blocks. The Free Speech Plaza was closed for a few days in December after reports that someone defecated in a planter.
Still said that Saturday Market is still open for business.
“When we get here in the morning, if there's a mess we clean it up. At the end of the day before we leave, we clean up our mess. It's a public place and uh we do our best to take care of it,” Still said.
The patch of grass that was compromised is a piece of land vendors dubbed "the secret lawn". Because vendors back their shops up to the grass, they said it was never a concern for visitors or vendors.
Vendor Abdul Wahed has been selling his Afghan food at the Saturday Market for 28 years, and was near the lawn when vendors found the waste.
“We just work around it, you know, we're… we're a functioning in a public, public space and we just have to uh do what we can to work with it,” said Wahed.
Wahed said he and many other vendors think the culprits are the homeless campers.
“Sometime in the morning, I start at 4 'o clock here, I come here and they're sleeping here … and put their watermelon all over the place and I come and put it in the garbage," he said.
Vendors said they aren't pointing any fingers, but they said it is a part of a bigger issue about the homeless population in general.
They think the city and county should be more involved in solving Eugene’s homeless situation.