Though the weather may not seem like it, it is spring and the first weekend of May. And that means it is time for Penticton’s popular street markets to get underway for another season.
“I think I am as ready as I am ever going to be,” said Stephanie Sundquist, manager of the Penticton Farmers’ Market.
This will be the 22nd season for the market, which takes over the 100 block of Main Street each Saturday from May to October. Along with the Farmers’ Market, Penticton’s downtown also hosts the Community Market in the 200 and 300 blocks of Main, and Art Under the Trees in a small park next to the Penticton courthouse.
Between them, the three markets regularly draw 5,000 visitors each Saturday morning.
Barb Haynes, executive director of the Downtown Penticton Association, which operates the five-year-old Community Market, is excited to be back on the streets.
“It is going to be a fabulous market season. We have more vendors this year than we did even last year. I think we are going to be full, full, full in the markets,” said Haynes. “The businesses are ready to roll … they are anxiously awaiting the start of the markets as well.”
Sundquist said the Farmers’ Market also has a full list of member/vendors, with a few casual vendor spots still to be filled. Along with many regular vendors, she said the market has a number of brand new faces as well, with some new products.
“We have a popsicle lady who is going to do fresh local popsicles out of fresh fruit purees,” she said, adding that there will be at least two new farmers coming in from Oliver to join the Penticton farmers and other regulars.
“It looks like we are going to have a pretty full house, and with this beautiful weather, we are going to have vegetables on the first day. I have been promised asparagus and salad greens for the first day of the market.”
Downtown should be a very busy place Saturday with three special events taking place besides the first day of the markets. The Community Market is hosting SOSfest for the second year, inviting all the local first response and social agencies to come down to show and share what they do.
“Search and Rescue, which is always hugely popular, will have their command vehicles, all the wonderful things that they do,” said Haynes, adding that the RCMP, fire department and other agencies will also have a presence.
“We have Crime Stoppers and lots of social agencies and organizations, like Interior Health, that will be coming and sharing what they do.
“It’s just a great way to launch the markets. It’s spring time, people are excited to get out and about and it is a great opportunity for those organizations to let people know what they do.”
In Gyro Park, next to the Farmers’ Market, the South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council is hosting its third annual International Workers Day event, with local musicians, activities for children and labour leaders and politicians speaking.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay will be setting out again, with the medal bearer leaving from Gyro Park at 10 a.m. and running up Main Street as the medal continues its 12,000-kilometre journey across Canada to commemorate Hansen’s around-the-world Man in Motion tour.
And all through the season, there will be lots of entertainment, with buskers roaming the markets, and entertainment in Nanaimo Square, in front of the Bellevue Cafe and in the Westminster Avenue intersection.
“There will be lots of opportunity for people to enjoy that, as they have every year,” said Haynes. “It’s just a really great opportunity for everybody to get outdoors. It’s a great way to see people that you haven’t seen for a long time. There are all these wonderful conversations up and down the street.”
The markets operate from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday from May through Octobe