Organizers of the South Cariboo Farmers’ Market say it was a successful first opening Friday, despite cooler temperatures and a smattering of hail.
Some 24 vendors turned out for the weekly market, now being held at the South Cariboo Rec Centre. Market manager Amanda Patterson said the new location allows a more spacious, open market, with all the vendors set up in a U-shape for easy visibility. In the past, the market was held outside the Community Hall downtown.
“It’s fantastic. I love the new layout, it makes it easier for customers to go through and get directly where they want to go without offending vendors,” Patterson said. “In the old space, you had to meander through and couldn’t make a quick pass. This gives you an open feel where you can see what you want, get straight to it and move through.”
The market is also able to host more vendors this year. Besides the usual farmers, bakers and crafters, this year’s market can accommodate local community groups such as the 100 Mile Lions and the 100 Mile Hospice, which are selling tickets for fundraisers, as well as a booth for the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy, which will hand out free books to young children.
The Chartreuse Moose has also joined the market for the first time. Brick-and-mortar businesses hadn’t previously been allowed because organizers didn’t want to take away from downtown shops. Patterson said the addition allows vendors to get their coffee early in the morning while benefiting the cafe, which has had to go to take-out only during COVID-19.
“This way the community can still support them in this setting rather than going downtown and having to take it to go,” she said.
Chartreuse Moose manager Mary LaPointe said she has received a lot of positive feedback so far. “People are glad we’re here and considering what’s going on, it’s just another way to help us make it through until restrictions are released a little bit,” she said. “I’ve always thought we should be a part of it anyway but this is a really good incentive to get us out. I think this will be a permanent thing.”
Rita Giesbrecht, who sits on the farmers’ market board and also sells her preserves, said the response on the first day was “superb.” The market last year opened with just five vendors because COVID restricted it to food-only at the time.
“One thing we tried to do over the past couple of years is come up with ways to actually enlarge the footprint of the market so we have more variety coming from further away, giving customers more of a reason to come to the market,” Giesbrecht said. “The mood in the market (Friday) is ‘we don’t even care that it’s freezing cold and snowing, we’re just glad to be out seeing our neighbours for a change.’”
The market runs from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. every Friday until October.