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Kelowna’s outdoor Farmers Market returns for new season

Despite new restrictions on indoor dining being implemented in the province this past week, local foodies can still get their fix.

Saturday marked the first outdoor Farmers and Crafters Market in Kelowna, and organizers have reason to celebrate.

For many Central Okanagan Businesses, Kelowna’s Outdoor Market has, for decades, served as one giant stage.

But last year the curtains closed thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“It was our 25th anniversary, our birthday celebration, but all events got cancelled so we couldn’t even celebrate our 25th or the fact that we were named market of the year last year,” said Market Coordinator Francis Callaghan.

After what’s been a tumultuous year for local businesses trying to stay afloat, Saturday marked the first outdoor farmers market of the season, with hundreds flocking to get their hands on local goods.

“I know everyone wants to come to the Farmers Market and enjoy it. And a lot of people remember two years ago what it was like here – right now, we’re not like that.” Callaghan added.

Gone are the festivals and large crowds, replaced with strict COVID-19 protocols.

Lilly Brogan, the market’s Social Media Rep has made it easier for customers to know exactly what to expect before they head out by live streaming from the event every morning, on Instagram.

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“You know what, I get multiple people a day when I do post early in the morning saying ‘thanks so much for posting that because without you we wouldn’t know what to expect and now … we know exactly where to go,’” Brogan said.

“It’s kind of like a virtual map before you come here, right?”

Food and farm vendors are also having to digest the new restrictions of an outdoor market, limiting their ability to interact with customers the way they used to.

“It’s maybe a little more crowded than it should be today but people are being pretty careful about the social distancing. We have the same protocols that we had in place last year. We’ll adhere to the rules as best we can and keep everyone safe, especially our vendors and our customers,” Farmers Market Board President David Price told Global News.

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Despite the drastic changes from the outdoor markets of 2019, both customers and vendors are just glad to get a bite-sized sample of normal.

“It’s bizarre because this time last year, we were over at Parkinson Rec with about twenty vendors for a couple of weeks. Here, opening day, we’ve probably got sixty-plus vendors but more importantly we have our artisans and crafters back which last year, we didn’t get back until June.” Price said.

Barring any added restrictions or shutdowns, Kelowna’s outdoor market will run every Wednesday and Saturday, giving local businesses and their supporters a chance to try and bounce back from a year that has been very tough to swallow.

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