Farmers’ Market wraps up shortened season

·3 min read

Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Exhibition Pavilion looked part Farmers’ Market and part Halloween Saturday afternoon.

Getting in the spirit of Halloween, local vendors and market attendants alike donned costumes with youngsters hitting up each stand for some Halloween goodies.

But as this year’s Farmers’ Market celebrated 50 years, and navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, vendors made sure it wasn’t too tricky to get the treats.

“It started late, but people are very supportive of the community,” said Karen Taylor of Kay Gee Tee’s, Homemade Jams and Jellies, a veteran of the Farmers’ Market for the past 33 years who is also known as the Jam Lady. “We didn’t know what to expect. I had signs on here saying don’t touch anything and then you sort of loosen up a little bit and people get to know what their constraints are and what they can touch and what they can’t, but people are supportive.”

That has kept Taylor selling the over 60 flavours of jams and jellies she and Jayleen Desaunoy provided Saturday afternoon, fully decked out in Halloween costumes.

“I still have to make jam every week just to fill up the stock that I have sold out of,” said Taylor. “So I’m looking forward to the two Christmas sales. The Farmers’ Market is having two in the middle of November and at the end of November (Nov. 13-14 and Nov. 27-28). It’s usually a really good sale.”

This fall’s Farmers’ Market adhered to Alberta Health Services regulations with separate entrance and exit points as well as larger aisles and handwashing stations. As well, exhibitors and visitors were required to wear a face mask or face shield during their time in the Exhibition Park buildings.

Taylor noted some vendors stayed away during the pandemic year.

“There are some that haven’t made it back this year. They didn’t feel they wanted to do it, maybe they had family members with pre-existing conditions or they were worried. But we just raged on through.”

Over at Birds and Bees Organic Winery Meadery and Distillery, happy hour concierge Helen Manzara said sales have remained on par with past years, but how she delivers the product has changed.

Due to the pandemic, Manzara was unable to give her customers samples at her booth.

“That is a big hit for me because our wine tastes better from the bottle rather than from a prepackaged, closed container,” she said. “So we haven’t been sampling this year because of those restrictions. I miss it and the customers miss it because they don’t get a sample before they buy. But we’ve had in place since before COVID hit a money-back guarantee. So for us, that hasn’t changed. It’s just how we sell has changed.”

For Birds and Bees Organic Winery and Eatery, the bottom line has remained the same.

“Sales-wise it has been similar to previous years,” said Manzara. “I was expecting a quiet, slow year. I was not expecting a comparable year to previous years and it has turned out to be the same as last year.”

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Dale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald