The New West Farmers Market is hoping to start a new holiday tradition for local families.
The market is hosting its second annual Holiday Food + Artisan Market on Dec. 11 and 12 outside New Westminster City Hall.
This year’s market will build on the event that began last year, in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, when public health restrictions meant a limited, food-only market without any accompanying activities or entertainment.
With no such restrictions in place this year, market manager Lily Nichol couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the prospects for the season. This year’s market will feature more than 80 vendors, including a few food trucks to serve up lunch and snacks to shoppers.
“We’re excited to be able to have them back this Christmas,” Nichol said.
She estimates about 60% of the booths will be returning vendors, with about 40% from newcomers to the New West market.
“People will get to see lots of new products and stuff they haven’t seen at New West before,” she said.
The market promises to be a one-stop shop for your festive needs.
You’ll be able to fill up on food and drink, with four farms booked to provide produce (fresh and/or frozen, depending upon the weather) and other vendors offering a variety of prepared foods – chocolate, baked goods, nut butters, kombucha, maple syrup, honey and more.
Nichol also promises a “healthy selection” of alcohol for those looking to stock up on holiday libations.
On the artisan side, there will be a variety of wares offering some “cool things for gifts,” Nichol promises: candles, soap, cards, jewelry, children’s accessories, holiday wreaths made out of local greenery, embroidery and much more.
This year, for the first time, the market received a grant from the City of New Westminster so it can cover the costs for six vendors who are part of historically underrepresented groups – such as youth, newcomers, Indigenous vendors and the LGBTQ+ community.
“It can be expensive and overwhelming for vendors to start at a market,” Nichol said, noting the grant will help cover vendor fees, insurance and supplies.
As an added bonus for shoppers, there will be live entertainment all weekend long, as well as kids’ crafts – an extension of the “Sprout Club” the market runs throughout the year for young marketgoers.
Nichol noted last year’s event drew about 2,500 shoppers over the weekend.
“We have about a third more vendors this year, and we have a lot more extra stuff going on with music and kids’ stuff, so we expect to have more customers,” she said.
Though there will be no barricades in place at this year’s market, Nichol and her team of 24 volunteers will be on hand to control access and prevent it from becoming too crowded. People are asked to enter from the Fourth Street side and to be prepared for a lineup, depending how popular the market is.
Marketgoers are also welcome to bring along their pooches (provided, of course, that the dogs are leashed and well-behaved).
“We’re hoping that we’re starting a new family tradition for people,” Nichol said. “A lot of times the Christmas markets are seen more as an adult-only thing, but we want to make sure that everybody feels welcome.”
Sharing some holiday cheer with the community is part of the market’s mission to give back to the people who support it, week in and week out, through the year.
“We had a really good season this year,” Nichol said. “We’re really appreciative of the community being so supportive of the market.”
Admission to the market is by donation. This year, the market will donate half the funds to help support farmers affected by this month’s catastrophic flooding in B.C. (Exact details are still being worked out.)
IN A NUTSHELL
What: Holiday Food + Artisan Market, presented by New West Farmers Market
Who: Featuring 80 food and artisan vendors, three food trucks, live music and free crafts for kids
When: Saturday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days
Where: Outside, in front of New Westminster City Hall, 511 Royal Ave. (Enter from the Fourth Street side, at Tipperary Park.)