ROCKWOOD – The Rockwood Farmers’ Market kicked off its 2021 season with a turnout that exceeded opening day expectations, setting the stage for an exciting season ahead.
Market organizer Jen MacLeod said there were over 500 people in attendance last week, comparable to some of the biggest days the market has seen in previous years.
“I hope it bodes well. I hope it means that we’re going to have higher attendance this season,” MacLeod explained, also noting opening day exceeded vendors’ expectations.
“It was really nice for some of our new vendors.
“They left the market yesterday saying it exceeded their expectations for opening day, which was lovely, a great way to start.”
MacLeod said they took a risk this year, bumping the market size from 20 to 25 vendors each week.
“That’s a bit of a risk of course because to have that many vendors you need enough people shopping to be able to support them all,” MacLeod said.
The market, located in Rockmosa Park, was shy two vendors on opening day due to pandemic restrictions, but MacLeod said the market is planning to have a cohort of occasional vendors available to fill last-minute vacancies.
If a vendor can’t attend one week, they will work to fill the gap for that day to ensure there will always be 25 vendors when shoppers come.
“We’ve been struggling,” MacLeod explained.
“It’s a little bit like chicken and egg – do you need more vendors in order to get more shoppers or do you need more shoppers in order to support more vendors? But really they’re so deeply connected, and we need both this year.”
She added, “It felt like a risk because this is their livelihood of the people there vending so it is risky in a sense, we don’t want them coming if they’re not getting enough support from the community.”
With the pandemic, MacLeod said she believes the time was right to take the risk and expand.
“COVID has really laid the framework where people are looking to buy food closer to home and they’re looking to get out and connect with their community when they buy their food,” sae said.
“So I think the moment is right for us this year.
“We’ve been honing how to put together the market and I think this year we’ve come up with a really great arrangement.”
The market will operate every Wednesday from 4 to 7pm until Oct. 7 in Rockmosa Park.