Quesnel’s foodie festival of family fun

Quesnel Farmers' Market regular Chanelle Sankey always has the artisan crackers stacked up at her Hixon Falls Company booth. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Paul Zeegers is the Quesnel Farmers' Market association president and a regular vendor. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Farmers' Market is a family affair for daughter Julia and mother Kelly Davison of Harvest To Hearth Farm. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Multi-talented creator Tahirih Goffic is a vendor of fine art and baking at the Quesnel Farmers' Market. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Birds are treated to luxury with the charming birdhouses made by Norm Armstrong, available at the Quesnel Farmers' Market. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
KM Ranch coolers are always stuffed with beef and mutton products raised the Cariboo way by Kristina Fay and offered up at the Quesnel Farmers' Market. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

A day at the Quesnel Farmers’ Market is a shopping trip and a social call.

Even if the Saturday weather is less than ideal – but it so often is – the warm welcomes are worth a visit every week. Every vendor and each entertainer is another chance to enjoy the moment.

“We are here every week. It’s a great vibe; great people,” said Kristina Fay of KM Ranch, a local operation with about 160 head of cattle and some sheep as well. An array of protein products are available from them right out of the cooler.

Fay said she finds the Farmers’ Market sales are about on par with online sales orders, making it a key part of their company’s economy.

There are greens, cakes, and preserves all over the grounds at the wide park surrounded by the Kinchant-Carson-McLean intersections in the park by Helen Dixon Centre and McNaughton Centre. But food isn’t the only stuff you’ll find, there.

“I started the year with 110, got down to about 10 or so, so I had to start building like hell again,” said Norm Armstrong, a property developer for feathered residents. At retail prices ranging between $5 and $35, it’s no wonder his birdhouses go fast.

His overhead isn’t problematic, though. The size of his construction projects allow him to build with found items, wood scraps, bits of material from person-sized structure projects, and a lot of innovative imagination. Some are surprisingly complex designs, others are the traditional birdhouses we’re all used to seeing.

Some vendors even have both food items and handmade creations together. Tahirih Goffic runs Dragonfly Studios which has a combination of baked goods and fine art. She learned the dual-track artistic skills running her own studio in Bella Coola for 27 years, and for eight of them also operating the Dragonfly Cafe. Now she’s hanging up her shingle in Quesnel at the Farmers’ Market.

With her paintbrush, she specializes in animal imagery, but recently started branching out into other themes and mediums. “I started seeing pictures in my head, which had never really happened to me before, so I figured I had to get that out,” said Goffic. The results surround her well-stocked market space.

Travelling from not quite so far up the road were Kelly Davison and daughters Julia and Shae from their Harvest To Hearth agri-food spread.

“We’re a new family farm in Bouchie Lake,” said Kelly. “I’m a student in the Applied Regenerative Agriculture program, now called Applied Sustainable Ranching, through TRU (Thompson River University).”

Components of that program teach topics like cash flow and business preparation, so these concepts are now being put to practical use.

“This year we’ve focused more on the canning crops like tomatoes, dill, cucumbers, and we decided to plant 2,100 strawberry plants,” said Kelly.

There are also a lot of onions, sprouts, lettuce, mint, and much more in their combination greenhouse and garden on their 310-acre farm shared with some Coriente cattle.

Every few steps at the Quesnel Farmers’ Market makes your mouth water or your creative sparks ignite. You can get world class crackers from Chanelle Sankey at her Hixon Falls Company. You can stop by to talk about Farmers’ Market logistics with Paul Zeegers, the association president, who also has a display of bedding plants, tomato baskets, mixed greens and veggies. You could stroll past the musicians that always have a showcase there. It’s an easygoing community festival, each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Farmers marketsQuesnel