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New West Farmers Market hosts December weekend event

A planned holiday art and food market in New West has had to be scaled back in light of COVID-19 health orders, but a winter farmers market is still going ahead.
New West Farmers Market, Lily Nichol, winter market
New West Farmers Market manager Lily Nichol with a sampling of some of the wares that will be on offer at the winter market coming to the front of city hall on Dec. 12 and 13.

A planned holiday art and food market in New West has had to be scaled back in light of COVID-19 health orders, but a winter farmers market is still going ahead.

The Arts Council of New Westminster and New West Farmers Market had teamed up to plan an outdoor winter holiday market for Dec. 12 and 13. It was originally intended to bring together both food vendors and artisans for a festive, one-stop-shopping holiday affair.

But, in light of the new restrictions on events in the latest provincial health orders, the artisan component had to be dropped.

Farmers markets, however, have been declared an essential service as they are part of the food supply system. The holiday event is now being replaced by a December Weekend Market featuring New West Farmers Market vendors. It will still be held outdoors, in front of New Westminster City Hall (Sixth Street and Royal Avenue). 

Market manager Lily Nichol said the market wanted to stage a winter event to benefit both customers and vendors.

“We were concerned about how our vendors were going to do over the winter months because we weren’t able to run our winter market this year,” she said.

Nichol noted the market has worked with city and health officials to ensure that COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, as the market did during its spring and summer season. Access will be controlled to limit the number of shoppers in the space at any one time, and all shoppers are asked to wear masks.

The market is running on the mantra of “Shop, don't stop” – meaning customers are asked to shop their way from one side of the market to the other, and not to linger or double back wherever possible. There will be printed maps to help visitors plan their stops.

Shoppers will be able to check out the wares of 50 to 60 vendors bringing all kinds of edible – and potable – offerings. There will also be a small, curated selection of artisan wares, including baby items, masks, jewelry, knitted goods, sweaters and more.

Though produce will be limited because of the season, Nichol noted some farmers will be bringing frozen produce (berries, anyone?) and, potentially, root-cellar vegetables.

“Depending on how the weather is, we’re also hoping there might be greens,” she said.

Seven bakeries are lined up to take part, so you’ll be able to pick up bread, cheesecakes, cookies and all manner of other treats. New to the market will be vendors offering crème brulée and bannock.

Your holiday beverage requirements can be taken care of at the stalls of five alcohol vendors, and those so inclined can pick up some cheese for pairing with their wine, courtesy of Golden Ears Cheesecrafters.

Other food offerings run the gamut: honey, kettle corn, maple syrup, coffee, mulling spices. And, yes, two chocolatiers are booked to take part.

“We are hoping to be able to supply dinner tables and breakfast tables; get all the appies you might want,” Nichol said.

The market will take place rain, snow or shine.

“We will be there no matter the weather,” Nichol said. “We’re prepared for that. The farmers market is used to running 12 months a year. We have all the equipment and the know-how. The most important thing to us is we’ll have a safe opportunity for our vendors to sell their goods.”

Volunteers will be on hand to monitor the entrance and exit area, and, in the event of a crowd, there’s plenty of lineup room so shoppers can safely distance from each other while they wait. 

“We’re not quite sure what the customer turnout is going to be,” Nichol said, noting it’s a new event for the market – and, of course, there aren’t many other events running right now.

Regardless, she said, people will have plenty of time to check out the market since it’s open for six hours both days. 

“We have a lot of plans in place to make sure the crowd is well managed and safe,” she promised.

The market runs Saturday, Dec. 12 and Sunday, Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Shoppers can park for free in the Tipperary Park lot and access the market from the Tipperary Park/Fourth Street side. Entrance is by donation.

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