'It’s different': St. Albert Farmers’ Market opens for the season at new location
EDMONTON -- Despite the wet weather, the St. Albert Farmers’ Market kicked off a new season Saturday.
“Typically we are in the beautiful Perron District with 270 booths and we extend over three streets,” said Jennifer McCurdy, President & CEO of the St. Albert & District Chamber of Commerce.
But the farmer’s market, known as the largest outdoor one in western Canada looks much different this year.
It has been moved to the parking lot at Servus Credit Union Place where there’s lots of room for physical distancing.
"We've split the market into two this year and we’re going to be about 150 booths,” McCurdy said.
The move took some longtime vendors some getting used to.
“Not knowing what to expect when we get here after being at the downtown location for many years and then coming here and just seeing how different it is,” said Tim Wiltzen, who has operated the Two Babs and a Stove booth at the market for 18 years.
The aisles have barriers to keep shoppers moving in one direction and people are asked to sanitize their hands as they enter and leave the market.
Volunteers are also keeping a close eye on the number of people inside at a time.
“If there’s 80 booths in this market we’ll be letting 160 people in and we’ll monitor and just make sure everybody is safe and able to move,” McCurdy said.
Many vendors have also taken steps to protect themselves and customers. Doef’s Greenhouses has installed plexi-glass to protect it’s employees working the cash and won’t be allowing self-serve.
“We have all of our loose stuff that we can grab for the people so there’s less touching that way,” said Paul Doef.
Measures many shoppers seemed to appreciate.
“There’s some vendors that have ropes up in front to give the space, other vendors have some hand sanitizer out and such so I think it’s been great,” said Sarah Barr, a regular at the market with her kids.
“It’s definitely one of our favourite things to do on the weekends in the summer,” she added.
The market will also sound different this year.
“The music is a big part of the market each year so unfortunately we can’t have our buskers but hopefully maybe as things lift that’s something that we can re-introduce,” McCurdy said.
And although the market will also have concessions, McCurdy said there won’t be any seating available.
“So we’re asking people not to spend a lot of time here, just to come and support local, support their vendors they all love and come back the next week.”
Despite the changes vendors are optimistic it will still be a good season.
“There’s lots of different protocols. We obviously have to be six feet apart, wear masks, everything has to be pre-packaged and less customers at once but it seems to be okay so far,” said Confetti Sweets employee Stephanie Ladouceur.
“I think people are pretty dedicated to this market so I think they’ll adjust pretty well.”
The market is open every Saturday between June 6, 2020 and October 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.