It was only a few months ago when farmers’ markets were allowed to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, with strict changes in place to protect the health and safety of vendors and visitors. The markets in St. Jacobs and Elmira took this in stride and reopened as quickly as possible, bringing back vendors and patrons. Operators of the venture in Wellesley, however, decided they did not want to risk the health and safety of those working and shopping, opting to remain closed.
Because clearances were part of phase 1 of the government’s reopening plan, organizers of the market said it simply did not make sense for them to open at the given time, instead choosing to revisit the matter at a later date. After some deliberation and planning, they’ve got good news for their patrons, as the market in Wellesley is reopening for a six-week stretch.
Starting September 5 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Wellesley Park Pavilion, the market will return with 10 vendors.
Market organizer Pamela Wideman says she is excited to welcome everyone back, especially after the difficult past few months.
“We’re really excited to be able to do this in a time when the majority of our community events have been cancelled. As well, we’re really excited to be able to welcome the vendors back in a season where there has likely been some financial loss involved for them,” she said.
“We really appreciate the community and we really appreciate our vendors. And we’re just so excited to be able to do this, even if it’s just for six weeks.”
She says the biggest upside of reopening, aside from being able to give local vendors a chance to sell their wares, is the return of the social interactions, albeit under the stricter controls dictated by the coronavirus protocols.
“The social aspect of the market is a really huge part of why we love to run the market. And if we were to have run over this summer, it would have had to be very strict, lots of protocols, lots of us kind of policing our neighbours, and we really weren’t interested in doing that. We thought that for the sake of the community, we would make a good decision and just hold off. Of course, we felt really bad for our vendors, but we were willing to revisit again for the fall in hopes that the pandemic has moved along,” Wideman added.
When people return to the market, they will notice a few changes from years prior. In addition to a few less vendors, customers will be asked to wear masks if they are able – masks will be provided if patrons do not have one – and the market is also going to be expanded into the parking lot to reduce the number of people in the pavilion.
Vendors cooking fresh food will also be absent from the six-week market this year, as Wideman notes Region of Waterloo Public Health advised them to stay away from having those things on site.
Mary Lichty-Neeb, secretary of the Wellesley Township Fall Fair, says things may change over the course of the markets opening and vendors could be added to sell food if things line up.
She adds that additional measures being implemented include customers being asked to not touch items that the vendors are selling, instead pointing to what they want and having their bags ready so as little contact as possible can be achieved.
In normal years, vendors pay a fee to attend the market and sell items, this year as a show of good faith vendors will not have to pay. Lichty-Neeb says this is to help give back to the community and businesses that have probably suffered a great deal since the start of the pandemic.