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Al Fresco outdoor market back for 2nd year in downtown Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Al Fresco back for second year in downtown Edmonton' Al Fresco back for second year in downtown Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: A popular, vibrant outdoor market in downtown Edmonton is back for a second season. Al Fresco will run every Saturday until mid-September. As Nicole Stillger explains, after a rough 15 months many people consider it an important business recovery project – Jun 12, 2021

A popular, vibrant outdoor market in the heart of downtown Edmonton is back for a second season.

Al Fresco on 104 Street features 40 local vendors, food trucks and extended patios.

“This kind of street closure and having patios and the market is just so important to downtown to get people back on the streets,” said Chris Buyze, president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League.

It’s an event made for supporting local while giving people a reason to visit the city’s core.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton tourism industry eager to bounce back' Edmonton tourism industry eager to bounce back
Edmonton tourism industry eager to bounce back – Jun 11, 2021

“For the last 14 to 16 months, we really have not had a lot of people downtown,” Buyze said.

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Jimmy Shewchuk owns Say Uncle on 104 Street. It opened in May 2019.

“We haven’t had a year consecutive yet of being open,” Shewchuk explained.

He’s looking forward to a busy summer.

“Seeing people on the street — it’s really good for the mental health of our team, critical for the cashflow and the health of our business,” Shewchuk said.

“I think we’re growing up as a city. We’re realizing big cities have these types of things happening — they shut down the streets and invite people to interact and experience downtown in different ways.”

Read more: Outdoor gathering spaces popping up in downtown Edmonton

It’s not just regulars embracing Al Fresco, according to Shewchuk — his customers are coming from outside of Edmonton too.

“We can’t really rely on office towers anymore to populate downtown, so activations like this… are super important.”

Town Square Brewing is at Al Fresco for the first time.

“Increasing the awareness of what it is that we have, what do we have going on, who we are, what we’re about,” Town Square Brewing sales rep Bar Lavy said.

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That’s been the big challenge during the pandemic, according to Lavy — engaging with customers. Now they have the chance to do that.

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“Getting out and talking to people — it’s a really big part of the craft beer world,” Lavy explained.

“We have some pretty funky beers that we make, so a lot of times people see the label and don’t really know what it’s all about.”

Al Fresco will be at the 4th Street Promenade for the next 15 Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The only thing that’s missing now is live entertainment and that will happen once COVID-19 rules and guidelines allow for it.

“(We want to have) local bands and local artists to augment what’s happening here and really make it a real vibrant place to be,” Buyze said.

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