While more restrictions have been implemented by the Province amid an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases, organizers are still moving ahead with the Crossfield Farmer’s Market’s annual spring event, set to take place May 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“There are going to be people who don’t think we should move ahead, there will be people that think we should,” said market manager Cheryl Shea. “Honestly, I believe we have a very safe venue and all of the necessary COVID-19 protocols.”
As farmer’s markets have been deemed an essential service, similar to grocery stores, Shea said hosting markets to support small business owners has been important to her. She said she has heard stories from vendors who have taken to cashing out their RRSPs to continue funding their businesses.
“It hurts my heart,” she said. “These people are desperate to survive. We are seeing more and more vendors come out this year because they are trying to reinvent their lives. We have a privilege and obligation to do this for them.”
On May 15, the market will house a few food trucks outside of the Crossfield and District Community Centre. Directional traffic, masking and sanitization will be in effect and visitors can choose to purchase the wares of more than 60 vendors in attendance.
Currently, there is a 10 per cent capacity rule for retail laid by the Province, but Shea said her team has ensured all event-goers can participate safely.
Normally, according to Shea, the Crossfield Farmer’s Market’s spring event would have upwards of 100 vendors. As organizers have ensured each booth can set up at least six feet away from each other, she said the capacity has been lowered to ensure better safety.
“Line-ups can safely happen,” she said. “We are also controlling numbers and the directional flow ensures everyone can keep moving. We are just trying to stay on top of all of the guidelines.”
In light of the ongoing spike in case numbers in Alberta, Shea said she understands people may not agree with the decision to move ahead with public events. That said, she added markets are some of the only options these local businesses have to produce income during the pandemic.
While she has weighed the idea of cancelling or postponing the event, Shea said the decision would leave many of these vendors without income, which is something she does not want.
“When I think about going through with it, it is all about making sure it is safe,” she said. “It’s a balancing act, like it is for every small business.”
The act of supporting local, according to Shea, should no longer be just a trendy hashtag or social media slogan. She believes with the difficulty everyone has faced since the pandemic began, hosting the market means a lot to people.
“It’s really meaningful,” she said. “The fact that we are allowed to operate speaks highly of the farmer’s market, and the quality of the vendors.”