St. Albert Farmers’ Market now open in new location

St. Albert Farmers’ Market now open in new location
WATCH ABOVE: Western Canada's largest outdoor farmers' market opened for the season on Saturday, but as Nicole Stillger explains, this year looks much different.

The St. Albert Farmers’ Market opened for the season on Saturday, but this year the set-up looks much different.

For starters, the location — typically, the event is held in the city’s downtown, now it’s in the parking lot of Servus Place.

“We’ve been downtown for 37 years, so this is new to us,” said Jennifer McCurdy, president and CEO of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve split into two markets and we moved up here, so we’d be able to fence in the entire area — this way we can control the number of people coming in and out of the market.”

This is typically the largest outdoor farmers’ market in Western Canada. It sees up to 20, 000 visitors a day and hosts 270 vendors.

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Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the number of stalls has been scaled back to allow for physical distancing.

Social activities like face painting and buskers — as well as concession seating — are also gone this year.

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“It’s different and yet at the same time a lot of people are enjoying it,” McCurdy said. “We’ve made sure the two markets have a little bit of everything.”

Sampling is also off the table, which is a challenge for many vendors, including Ron Herman.

“Being that we’re a skincare product, it’s difficult to sell the product if you can’t sample it,” he explained.

“With the new social distancing rules, it puts a little strain on people coming in and looking at your products.”

It’s Herman’s fifth year at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market — and he said it’s nice to be back.

“This is our bread and butter all summer, and we lost all of our other markets through the spring,” he said.

McCurdy noted vendors set up all of their own safety protocols.

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Guests are asked to sanitize coming in and out of the market.

For those coming down, McCurdy suggests going online, looking at the vendors ahead of time and making a plan.

“Shop with purpose,” she said.

One of the only normal things about opening day? The rain.

“Typically, day one is a rainy day — we hope that brings us luck for the rest of the season,” she said.