In the wake of an order to restrict outdoor markets to fresh food only in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, organizers of the community market in downtown Penticton have decided to cancel the 2020 season.
The annual community market, a separate entity from the nearby farmer’s market, often draws crowds of 5,000 people or more on Saturdays, said the Downtown Penticton Association (DPA).
“We simply had to make the difficult but prudent decision to cancel,” said Lynn Allin, DPA executive director.
“Our board of directors and I were hopeful conditions might change soon enough that we could safely open the market this year, but the risk to our community’s health is just too great at this time to proceed.”
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The DPA’s community market, where vendors of locally-made products sell their goods, has been a seasonal staple of Penticton’s downtown district for over 15 years.
Normally running for 22 consecutive Saturdays, it is the not-for-profit’s major annual fundraiser. The proceeds, in turn, fund other downtown events like block parties and the Tree Light Up festival.
But it also delivers important economic benefits to the downtown community, so its return in 2021 is a certainty, Allin said.
“Many downtown shops and food and beverage establishments benefit throughout the summer and fall from the increased pedestrian traffic that the market generates,” said Allin.
“Also, 200-plus participating businesses and vendors rely on sales at our market for personal and business income. These factors were carefully considered and are why we waited until the last possible moment to cancel.”
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The DPA says it’s in the process of reaching out to all registered vendors and it launched an online market place involving downtown businesses, which can be found here.
On March 26, B.C.’s Ministry of Health designated farmers’ markets as essential food and agriculture service providers, but vendors of non-food items and other merchandise are prohibited to sell at the events.
Meanwhile, the Penticton Farmers’ Market is moving to an online platform in April and May due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, it said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.
The online platform was to launch this weekend, but organizers ran into technical difficulties.
Once it’s up and running, orders can be placed online here, and customers can pick-up on Saturdays in the Penticton Community Centre parking lot.
There is no word on when the regular outdoor food market could resume.
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