July was the first month in more than a year that Airdronian businesses were not in the chokehold of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
With that increased freedom, the staff behind local summer attractions in Airdrie such as Iron Horse Park, Nose Creek Valley Museum and the Airdrie Farmer’s Market have enjoyed their chance to fully open their doors to the public once again.
“We are quite happy to be operating again and our visitors are pleased to see us back as well,” said Iron Horse Park president Ray Verdone.
The miniature train-themed amusement park, which caters to young children, is typically open from the long weekend in May until the Thanksgiving weekend in October. This year, however, the park was not open until June 13, according to Verdone. At the time, Alberta was in Stage 2 of its pandemic reopening plan – similar to the framework that was in place last summer. Verdone said all necessary protocols were in place to make visitors feel comfortable and protect attendees who are unable to get the vaccine.
Since July 1, Verdone said staff at the park have gradually begun to relax health and safety protocols, but there are still hand-sanitizing stations set up around the venue and extended connection bars between passenger cars on the miniature train attraction.
Verdone said nearly all the activities provided at the park are outdoors, which heath experts have deemed is safer than being in a closed indoor space.
Iron Horse Park is open to the public on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The park is located just off of 8 Street, near the community of Midtown.
Another outdoor Airdrie attraction, the weekly outdoor farmer’s market, is seeing an increase in attendees as well, according to president Candice Kolson.
“I would say our attendance is pretty much on par,” Kolson said. “It is double – from the time of our opening this season in June, to now – what we were last year. So, we’re starting to see our attendance levels come back to that 2019 mark.”
Kolson added the market will continue to follow public health guidelines, even as the items on that list are no longer deemed mandatory. She said this compliance is what makes attendees feel safe and comfortable in attending the weekly markets, held Wednesday afternoons at Jensen Park and the Plainsmen Arena parking lot.
The Airdrie Farmer’s Market runs every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 320 Centre Avenue East, and will run until Thanksgiving.
Airdrie’s only museum – Nose Creek Valley Museum – has also had a substantial number of visitors in the last month, according to curator Laurie Harvey.
“We’ve had a pretty steady stream of visitors,” she said. “We’re just happy to be open.”
Similar to Iron Horse Park, Harvey said the venue is operating in the same manner as they did last summer, with regular cleaning, hand-sanitizing and social distancing protocols in effect. All of the directional arrows and Plexiglas shields from 2020 are still in place throughout the building, she added.
Harvey said that while the museum is open to spectators, not everything in the facility is available for public viewing at the moment, due to the inability to sanitize artifacts. Because of the reduced offering of exhibits on display, she said the museum has been operating on admission by donation.
“Everybody’s had a rough year and a half, and we just want to give families something to do,” she said.
Nose Creek Valley Museum, located on Airdrie’s main street by Nose Creek Regional Park, is open Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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