The Quesnel Farmers’ Market is preparing for another season at least somewhat hampered by COVID-19.
Market manager Tim Cawdell said they’ll be accepting vendor applications on March 23, and non-food related products will not be allowed due to current health orders. The normal holiday market activities were not run this year.
“The offseason was a loss, unfortunately,” Cawdell said. “We couldn’t find a suitable location to hold it… We just couldn’t make it work.”
The market, located on Kinchant Street, will open for customers on Saturday May, 1. They’ll remain open every Saturday until the season ends.
Cawdell faced a steep learning curve in 2020. Not only was he facing a global pandemic, but it was his first year running the market.
“We’re going to try and have a few things more than we did last year — we can’t call them events, but we’re going to have special themed days,” he said. “We can’t have events where people stop and sit and are close to one another.”
Artisans and crafters are not allowed to participate in farmer’s markets, but Cawdell hopes the provincial association will get that changed before May 1. In 2020, they were only allowed back in June.
“Why can I go up to a brand name store and buy groceries, then a wallet, buy a blanket, buy slippers, buy soap, but I can’t go to the farmer’s market and do that,” Cawdell asked. “We don’t know where the logic is in that.”
Cawdell is hoping to bring food vendors back for 2021 as well.
“The problem with that is all the food has to be container-ized,” he said. “You can’t just give people a plate… It’s all got to be done like a fast food place. In a box, and out you go.”
Social distancing requirements have cut down the maximum number of vendors and customers able to use the green space just outside the Helen Dixon Centre. In a normal year, 60 vendors would be able to show off their wares.
“It almost cuts your available space in half,” Cawdell said. “If we could get 40 vendors that would be a full house for us right now.”
Sign-ups for potential vendors will be available through the market’s website starting March 23.
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