After cancelling the event last year, the Airdrie Farmers Market has announced it will be going ahead with its annual Spring Fling market on April 3 to offer Airdronians another way to support local small businesses, while remaining safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event will be held at the Airdrie Town and Country Centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include additional spacing between vendors, reduced capacity, mandatory facemasks and social distancing where possible to comply with government protocols.
According to Candice Kolson, manager of the Airdrie Farmers Market, the Spring Fling is a safe way for people to support small businesses, build and grow local relationships and have a sense that things are still all right, despite the ever-changing climate of the pandemic.
“I think it sort of helps people remember what that normal was before,” she said. “It helps people get out of the house in a safe way, and maybe meet some small businesses which are really struggling right now.
“As far as events go, a lot of these businesses, that's their only source of income. And although markets are able to run, a lot of the other events are not permitted to run.”
Kolson said the farmers’ market made the difficult decision to cancel the event in 2020 because of the sudden restrictions brought on by the pandemic last spring, even though public markets were exempt to shutdown requirements and deemed essential services.
“We know a little bit more [this time around], so we’re able to follow those Alberta Health recommendations, and basically the public market needs to follow the same guidelines as any grocery store would,” Kolson said.
This means that the market will be focused on quality over quantity this year, with fewer vendors than previous years in order to provide additional spacing between stands.
The market will be host to vendors offering a wide array of foods, crafts, home décor, and home-made bath and body products, according to Kolson.
“We still have a lot of really great vendors and we have a lot of make, bake, grow vendors, which means more than 80 per cent of our vendors have made, baked, or grown their own products,” she said.
Kolson added Airdrie has always had a variation of a farmers’ market, but in 2009, she took ownership of the market and turned it into a public event. She began the Spring Fling a few years later and it has continued each year since then as a reminder of the importance of supporting local businesses.
“We do it just to remind people that the farmers market is still there, the vendors are still there, and we will see you when we open in June,” she said.
She added the Airdrie Farmers Market partners with the Airdrie Food Bank to provide much needed dollars and food donations to the charity. A donation to the food bank is the required entry fee to the Spring Fling, as well as other Airdrie Farmers Market events.
“We never really believe that you should have to pay to shop at a market, so we decided we’d rather people come with a donation to the food bank,” she said. “We've been able to raise a lot of money over the years for the Airdrie Food Bank so we would just like to continue that year after year.”
For those who are exempt from wearing facemasks or who don’t feel comfortable venturing out into large crowds, Kolson said a list of vendors can be found on the Airdrie Farmers Market website at airdriefarmersmarket.com under the “What’s Happening” section. According to Kolson, the market will be offering two parking stalls for curbside pick-up, located in front of the building beside the food trucks.