The South Cariboo Farmers Market will return to 100 Mile House Community Hall on Birch Avenue this summer after a two-year hiatus.
Businesses say they are looking forward to seeing the market return after it was moved to the South Cariboo Rec Centre in 2021 to make room for Interior Health’s vaccination clinics.
“It’s better for the Birch Avenue businesses when the market is in front of the community hall, instead of over at the arena,” said Mary LaPointe who manages the Chartreuse Moose.
Rob Diether, chair of the market, said they are happy to be back at the hall as it gives an indoor location for artists and other vendors with delicate wares a place to set up away from the weather. While the market was a success at the rec centre, he said it belongs in the heart of downtown.
He estimates this season they could have up to 40 vendors sign up for the market with the added space inside and out, compared with 25 in 2022.
Will Love will be back as the market manager.
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“It really attracts people downtown,” said Diether. “I think it’s a bonus situation for everyone and that includes our merchants downtown. And it’s a good attraction for tourists. They usually come into the downtown area to see what 100 Mile is about and I think it is a real feather in the cap of this community.”
The farmers market has been an institution in 100 Mile House for almost 40 years. The mainstay of the market is the local growers. Early in the season, there will be bedding plants and as the season progresses, in-season fresh produce. In addition there will be artists and local artisans.
The market is a member of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, which means it must have 51 per cent of food vendors.
Diether expects they will again be working with the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre as part of their nutrition coupon program.
“It’s an amazing program that’s really important. It’s so good for everyone. It enables a lot more people to have access to good, locally grown produce.”
He noted there is some uncertainty as to how long the market can remain on Birch Avenue, as the District of 100 Mile House is planning major renovations to the hall.
Mayor Maureen Pinkney agreed the market would likely have to relocate while that work is being done as “it would probably cross over into the time of year that the market runs.”
However, she said she is pleased to have the market back downtown this summer.
“Local business support all of our volunteer groups, youth sports and other loved events, so we are happy to see as much commerce as we can happen in our town bringing added diversity to our shopping experiences,” she said in an emailed statement.
Andie Giddings, owner of the Impossible Knot Yarn Shop, said while the people who go to the market are not generally coming to the store, she likes having it downtown.
“There are pros and cons. 100 Mile is one of those towns where when people need stuff they usually drive door to door because we’re kind of spread out. So it’s nice everything is nearby. Maybe they can just walk back and forth – just walk down to Donex or whatever,” she said. “But when you have it in town there’s less parking.”
Diether acknowledged the market days could be a concern for merchants who worry it will take parking away from their regular customers.
“We intend to communicate and accommodate as best we can any concerns about parking with some of the merchants downtown,” he said. “Hopefully we can all work together and direct people to park off of Birch.”
He recalled last summer when the parking lot was being paved at the Rec Centre and the market came back to Birch Avenue for one day.
“We were set up downtown and I was just busy with people,” he said. “Everyone who came to the market was saying ‘Oh, I’m so glad to see you back down here. Wish you could stay.’ It gives you an overwhelming feeling.”
Market hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday. Vendors can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to sign up.
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