REGINA – The Regina Farmer’s Market has been attracting people to the downtown for the past 38 years, but Thursday’s evening market, or “Market under the Stars” was a first.
“We added liquor tastings from Living Sky Winery and rye and vodka tastings from Last Mountain Distillery,” said the market manager, Ada Bennett, who explained they also partnered with Regina Downtown to have the event in conjunction with yoga in the park and salsa dancing on City Square Plaza.
They also had local food tastings from food trucks, but actually ran out of food due to an unexpected high number of visitors.
“We estimate somewhere in the neighbourhood of twenty thousand,” said Bennett.
Even organizers were surprised at the turnout after so little advertising. “The response was extreme and it’s exciting. And I feel like there’s a shift in the Regina public. They have a more urban sensibility,” she said.
After 15 years and six city councils, Mayor Fougere has also seen that shift: “When people left their office jobs, and (went) back to the suburbs, it was quiet downtown – a little too quiet. ”
Fougere said bringing people back to the downtown has always been a priority to reduce crime and vandalism. It seems that rejuvenation is now happening.
“I can tell you since last year, our numbers have doubled, if not tripled in some cases, in our activities,” said Leasa Gibbons, manager of marketing and communications for Regina Downtown.
City Square Plaza was a big part of those revitalization plans. Now that it’s complete, downtown business is seeing the payoff, but there’s more work to be done, said the mayor.
“It would be great if we could use it every day of the week, having something on the plaza, but that won’t happen for awhile.” Fougere added, “The longer term view of this one is to facilitate business growth downtown.”
That long term plan also includes 5000 more people living downtown in the next 20 years and so the question of what we want downtown to look like will continue to be a priority.
“How do we come together? It’s the one place where we can all join up as a community and own our city,” said Gibbons.
Regina Farmers’ Market is planning another evening market for August.