You know summer is here when St. Albert Farmers’ Market vendors get ready to pitch the tents for their booths.
The much-anticipated market, considered the largest outdoor event of its kind in Western Canada, returns to downtown St. Albert along St. Anne Street and St. Anne Promenade every Saturday from June 12 to Oct. 9.
“We’re excited, very excited. A lot of work has gone into organizing the market, and to see light at the end of the tunnel to reopen the summer is great,” said Curtis Crouse, chair of St. Albert Chamber board of directors.
One of the region’s best attended tourist destinations, it attracts up to 20,000 visitors on a sunny day. This year 187 stalls and 10 food trucks will populate the site. In pre-COVID years, the market had space for up to 270 booths. However, due to pandemic restrictions, stalls must be placed a minimum of two metres apart.
The market’s massive success stems from two areas. Shoppers are drawn to the market for variety and one-stop shopping. Vendors like the market’s longevity and friendly atmosphere.
“It’s easy access for us and we love to see all the people come out. And then there’s a great group of vendors. It’s like a little community,” said John Dougherty, owner of Stone Post Farms, a 320-acre sustainable spread near the hamlet of Wildwood.
Eager to return for a second season, the young farmer sells pasture-fed chicken and pork, grass-fed beef and lamb, soy-free eggs, and naturally-grown produce.
“We decided to come back because we had pretty good sales. We developed a good clientele and we wanted to build on that,” he said.
Following last year’s blueprint, the market will have one entrance and one exit point on St. Thomas Street. Once inside the fenced area, vendors will be separated into two markets.
Both markets will carry a diversity of foods, arts, crafts, and personal products. Shoppers can expect to find a range of household needs from fish, pies, dressings, and honey, to cedar crafts, jewelry, plants, and soaps. Also expect to encounter a few distilleries and a range of vegan products.
Although about a dozen produce vendors have signed up, fruits and vegetables may be limited until the weather warms up.
Masks must be worn at the market and handwashing stations will be located throughout.
The market opens every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Due to road maintenance in the downtown core, street parking is not available. Limited parking is available at St. Albert Place parking lot, Mission Avenue, Chateau Mission, the tennis club on Madonna Drive, and the curling club on Tache Street.
Free park-and-ride transit buses will also be available at the St. Albert Centre exchange throughout the market season. St. Albert Chamber negotiated 125 parking stalls on two lots adjacent to the bus loop for market shoppers.
“We’ll have detours on routes A31 and A32 from our normal schedules. This farmers’ market route is temporary, and when road repairs are done, we will return back to our normal route on Perron Street that we used every year,” said Dustin Creviston, City of St. Albert transit operations co-ordinator.
Buses will depart from the transit exchange every 20 minutes from 9:40 a.m. to 3:28 p.m. During downtown road maintenance, buses will drop off and pick up passengers at the traffic circle on St. Anne Promenade next to Grandin Medical Clinic.
“People will need to walk to the market entrance on St. Thomas Street,” Creviston said.
Once downtown road improvements are completed, bus service will return to its usual stop at the intersection of Perron and St. Thomas streets.
Face masks are required when riding transit or entering St. Albert Place for washroom use.
Visit www.stalbertfarmersmarket.com for updates.