The Bashaw Farmers Market wrapped up a successful season last month, which saw growth in both vendors and attendees.
“I don’t think COVID made a dent in our market,” said manager Laurie Hall.
The market started on June 12 and had it’s last night on Sept. 11, as back-to-school is a busy time for vendors and residents, so that’s when they typically chose to end for the summer season.
As an outdoor market, COVID-19 didn’t delay the opening of the market, and although some preventative measures were taken, the ongoing pandemic didn’t have much affect on the market, says Hall.
In fact, the market only grew.
Last year, when the market reached about a dozen vendors, that was an exciting milestone, but this year, they surpassed that, reaching 17 vendors by the end of the season, she says.
“For us, it was amazing,” said Hall.
Some of the new vendors included jewellery, ‘The Egg Man,’ a local producer, Al Campbell from Three Hills with Voxx Socks, The Painted Cottage, which refinishes furniture and decor, a dream catcher maker and a new vegetable vendor, Rockyosa Vegetables from Clive.
There was a huge selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, as some vendors brought more product to fill the gap left this summer as vendors from Hutterite colonies weren’t able to attend for most of the season.
“I felt that niche was really well covered,” said Hall.
The Camrose Fruit Stand supplied Taber corn, Alberta vegetables and B.C. fruit.
“They were a huge draw for us — they bring people in.”
Birney’s Berries, famous locally for their strawberries, not only brought their customary strawberries and carrots, but all their other vegetables, including onions and cucumbers.
Vendors who have been there since the market began also returned, including two bakers, a soap vendor and the Cat’s Pajamas.
In order to keep people physically distanced, the vendors set up around the perimeter of the gazebo beside the tourism booth and culture centre, facing outwards, and other vendors were spread out in tents.
There was also hand sanitizer available and some vendors wore masks, if they chose to.
Market goers had to line up and wait their turn to shop, but Hall says that didn’t deter people at all.
Hall says there was an even bigger crowd this year than last. A lot of the patrons of the market are typically seniors, who enjoy coming to the Friday markets to get fresh vegetables or a loaf of banana bread for the weekend, but perhaps more were looking for something to do this summer.
Hall says that the Bashaw Agriculture Society, the sponsor of the market, has been very supportive of vendors by keeping the table prices low, with a focus on providing a benefit to the community rather than making money.
The vendors were also great at promoting the market and recruiting other makers and producers to join.
For next year, Hall is hoping to secure a food truck to set up at during the market, and hopes their market will continue to grow “bigger and better.”