The 2020 Airdrie Farmers Market is set to open on schedule but with a few changes in accordance with Alberta Health Services (AHS) restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are seeing fewer vendors just based on businesses that have shut down completely, or that don’t have the manpower to send anyone out to run a booth at the market,” said Candice Kolson, manager of the Airdrie Farmers Market.
She added that the vendor capacity of the market has also been cut by half due to AHS restrictions.
The market will open on June 3 and run every Wednesday from 3:30 to 7 pm.
It will be located in the same location as previous years at 320 Centre Avenue behind the Plainsmen Arena.
One of the most noticeable restrictions that has been ordered by AHS is the fact that there will be only one entrance and exit to the market at the parking lot entrance to the arena. The entrance will be monitored to control the flow of foot traffic.
“There will be areas roped off and we are asking that customers please use the entrance/exits provided with signage so that we can keep everyone safe, and crowds manageable,” said Kolson.
She added that her team is considering testing out a seniors-only shopping from 3 to 3:30 pm before the market opens each week.
Other changes visitors to the market may see are booths that are somewhat blocked off to prevent shoppers from touching products and vendors asking customers to “shop with purpose.”
“This means not picking up items to show people who may be with you, and not searching through items to pick your favourite one if it can be avoided,” said Kolson.
She said it is up to vendors whether they choose to accept cash or not and many may be wearing gloves or masks.
Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and exit of the market.
Shoppers are also asked to keep any reusable bags they may bring on their person and not set them on the vendors’ tables.
Kolson encouraged shoppers to come out and support the local vendors who are going through a rough time.
“So many of these small businesses depend solely on the markets for income,” said Kolson.
“There wasn’t many of them that qualified for any government assistance through the pandemic funds. Our spring events, and hundreds of others that the vendors rely on to generate income, were cancelled. It would be awesome to see support and patience during this season.”
She added there are a few completely new and exciting additions to the market this year, including The Caffeinated Squirrel food truck and although Kolson said they had to cancel the Food Truck Frenzy that the market has become famous for, there will be food trucks on site every week.