Outdoor farmers’ market opens next weekend

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Vendors at Sackville’s farmers market are gearing up to once again take to Bridge Street on Saturday mornings.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – The local farmers market will take to the streets once again this spring as vendors get set for another season in downtown Sackville – and they will head out onto Bridge Street a bit earlier this year and continue later into the fall.

Town council approved the request from the farmers’ market board last week to expand the season by a few weeks this year, which will see Bridge Street closed on Saturday mornings from the first weekend in May (May 3) to Nov. 1.

During council’s discussion meeting earlier this month, Sackville farmers’ market board member April MacKinnon said the market has continued to grow significantly since establishing an outdoor presence. And she believes extending the schedule for the on-street market –to encompass Convocation weekend and Mother’s Day and expanding a bit longer into the fall – will ensure that success continues.

“We’d really like to provide a longer season for our vendors,” said MacKinnon, noting that many local farmers have a great availability of local produce right into late fall.

Last year, in particular, MacKinnon said the market “made some incredible leaps and bounds,” with vendors and visitors coming from as far away as ever before.

2014 will be the sixth season the on-street market has been located on Bridge Street. But judging from some of the discussion in council chambers last week, it might be the last.

“I am certainly in favour of the market . . .but I think it’s time to find a new location off of Bridge Street,” said Coun. Joyce O’Neil.

O’Neil said there are a number of alternative sites that could be looked at for the outdoor market and, as long as it stays in proximity to the downtown, she doesn’t believe it will hurt their business. She also noted it would free up the street in case of emergencies and eliminate the expense of having a public works staff member on hand each Saturday to put up and take down the barricades.

Coun. Bruce Phinney agreed, saying the “added cost is not something we can afford.”

“I think the time has come for the farmers’ market to find a new home,” he said.

While O’Neil and Phinney were the only two to oppose the street closure last week, Coun. Shawn Mesheau said he shares his fellow councillors’ concerns and worries about safety issues when the street is barricaded.

He applauded the significant efforts being made to establish a very unique seasonal market here, but he would also like to see more steps being made to find a new site.

“It’s time to move on,” he said, noting this will be last year he supports the closure of Bridge Street.

But councillors Bill Evans and Ron Aiken argued that the street market brings “vitality to the downtown” and weren’t so eager to see it relocated.

“I’m a big supporter of the market and I think it’s a huge benefit to the town,” said Evans.

Sure, there are some people who aren’t in favour of the street closure, said Evans, but for the most part, the “net effect is positive.”

Aiken said he believes the weekly outdoor market has become somewhat of an “iconic” event for Sackville and hopes it continues.

“Until we can find a really good alternative, I think it should stay where it is.”

The hours of the street closure will also be extended this year, giving vendors more time for set-up and take-down of their tents and trucks. The street will be shut down on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., rather than the previous hours of 8:30 a.m. to 12:30.

Organizations: Town council

Geographic location: Bridge Street, SACKVILLE

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