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Downtown Farmers’ Market to expand vendors, activities May 29


Marketgoers walk up Court Avenue in the early minutes of the opening day of the Downtown Farmers’ Market on May 1. Photo from the Downtown Farmers’ Market Facebook Page

The Downtown Farmers’ Market has announced plans to begin expanding its number of vendors and other activities beginning Saturday, May 29.

The market kicked off its return to a live, in-person market on May 1, when it opened with 115 vendors, about half of what it normally has, and it was focused on vendors who are food producers. Vendors of prepared, ready-to-eat food and those selling arts and crafts were not included in the first two weeks of the market.

Vendors were spaced 10 feet apart and Court Avenue was divided by traffic cones that helped to direct the flow of consumers, keeping them moving in the same direction, while allowing them to cut across the street to visit a vendor on the other side.

The opening weekend drew an estimated crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000, organizers said, down from 25,000 or more on a typical opening weekend before the coronavirus pandemic.

The return to a live market this spring follows a year that saw the market canceled because of the pandemic and market organizers shift to Facebook, online and drive-thru events in an effort to keep vendors and customers connected.

Starting May 29, the market will increase to 165 vendors, or about 75% of the usual number. It will also welcome back some of the prepared-food vendors and local artists. There will also be two limited seating and eating areas, and the market will host as many as four entertainment groups who will perform in open areas. The market will also begin to phase in limited family and children’s activities, organizers said in a news release announcing the changes.

“Safety continues to remain a top priority, and this represents an intermediate step between our scaled-back approach to begin the season and where we all hope to get to with a full, bustling market,” Kelly Foss, market director, said in the release. “We are so excited to welcome back even more vendors for the holiday weekend as well as elements that will safely make The Market feel even more like the event we remember.”

The scaled-back market that has been seen the past two weeks will continue each Saturday until May 29 and include modifications, such as the increased space between vendors, limiting walking traffic to one-way paths and encouraging attendees to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

According to organizers, the Downtown Farmers’ Market will continue to review its protocols and programming in response to fluctuating COVID-10 infection levels and vaccination rates.

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