Farmers’ Market making a fresh start

There will be at least one fresh face at the Penticton Farmers’ Market this year. That will be Stephanie Sundquist, who just started as market manager about a month ago.

Shoppers crowd Main Street during last year’s Penticton Farmers’ Market. The market opens a new season

Shoppers crowd Main Street during last year’s Penticton Farmers’ Market. The market opens a new season

There will be at least one fresh face at the Penticton Farmers’ Market this year. That will be Stephanie Sundquist, who just started as market manager about a month ago.

“It’s been an adventure,” she said, describing how she was getting in tune with the job and setting up for this year’s markets, which begin on Saturday.

“We’ve got lots of vendors, we have a full slate so far,” she said. “We have a whole bunch of new vendors as well as most of the people from last year returning.”

Along with planning out where the vendors will be, making sure there is a good mix of interesting stalls all the way down the block, Sundquist said they are planning special events for throughout the season. Already, they have confirmed the Master Gardeners, who will be holding a gardening clinic on May 28.

The market also has a new president this year. Stan Etters has the top job, while Cameron Smith is now the vice-president.

The Farmers’ Market, now in its 21st season, is just one of three popular markets that cover three blocks of Main Street every Saturday in the summer. There is also the long-running artisans’ market, rechristened Art Under the Trees last year, in honour of its location in a park off the 100 block of Main.

But the new kid on the block is the Community Market in the 200 and 300 blocks of Main. And according to Barb Haynes, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association, they’re planning a big, colourful kickoff to the year.

Last year, over 30 non-profit organizations set up booths to help raise funds and awareness at the Community Market; this year, organizers are incorporating that community aspect into the opening day as well.

“There is going to be all kinds of additional activities, tons of amazing entertainment,” she said, explaining that one of the biggest activities will be the SOSFest in the 300 block, bringing together emergency first responders and local non-profits in a giant open house.

Everyone will be there, she said, with representations from the fire department, Search and Rescue and the RCMP and social agencies like Brothers and Sisters, South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society and Community Resources .

“We are going to do the Child ID program as well, all kinds of fun things, there will be lots of give-aways for kids,” she said. “Lots of fun activities, bouncy castles, climbing walls, face painting, all of it.”

The Rotary Okanagan International Children’s Festival is also coming to the market, promoting the ninth annual event. They will be setting up a booth, but they have their own colourful event to add to the mix.

“They are going to be handing out a thousand clown noses, then we are going to be taking a picture from the top of the building with as many people as we can cram into the road closure at Main and Westminster,” said Haynes.

“So we’re going to kick the season off with a real community-minded, family-oriented, fun event,” said Haynes, who describes the market as a community endeavour.

“It’s been this great collaborative adventure,” she said. “I really believe that your downtown core should be where the action is, so this gives us the opportunity to see that action consistently every Saturday.”

All three markets start this Saturday at 8:30 a.m., with the Community Market running until 12:30 p.m. and the Farmers’ Market and Art Under the Trees wrapping up at noon.