Vendor and patrons of the Red Deer Public Market braved temperatures as low as minus 7 C on Saturday, wearing toques and mitts and carrying cups of steaming coffee.
Dennis Moffat, manager of the Red Deer Public Market, had a puffy winter jacket and his trademark cowboy hat on.
“This has been the best season we’ve ever had,” Moffat said. “Weather wise — until (Saturday) — it was almost perfect.”
He said the Red Deer Public Market has seen an eight per cent growth rate this year, with a record 257 stalls rented out the second week and a regular average of 170 stalls rented each Saturday. It was around a quarter that for the last regular market day of the season this past Saturday.
There has been some discussion at city open houses about moving the Red Deer Public Market. One suggestion involved putting the market in the old bus barns, west of Carnival Theatres, and even expanding it to be year-round. But it’s not something Moffat wants to see after 39 years of managing the market in the same general vicinity.
“Hopefully we won’t move. This is a perfect spot for it,” Moffat said.
“We have bus service right to the door, elderly people can walk here because so many of them live in this area, the parking is very adequate and we have washrooms in the Arena. People just like it here. It’s beautiful, with the trees. If it’s working so well here I don’t think we need to move it.”
Others think a year-round market in another location could work.
Ron Prins, who owns T.R. Greenhouses Ltd. and a part of Lacombe Pik ‘n Pak, said Red Deer is a large enough city and has enough people supporting the market that it would be possible to have a market throughout the year.
“Personally I think Red Deer is ready for a year-round market,” Prins said.
“It’s going to take a good person to organize it and find the right venue for it. Personally, I would welcome it because it extends our season a lot and there is a lot of demand from the Red Deer consumers. We could make it a real experience by being in the right spot. I think it’s an awesome idea.”
He would like to see a year-round market focus on items grown by farmers. He said at T.R. Greenhouses they can grow tomatoes until December and cucumbers even longer.
Rod Bradshaw, with Innisfail Growers, was trying to keep warm with the help of a propane heater on Saturday. He said the growing season was a bit of a challenge for them this year, with it being cold and dry, but the market and support of the public has been phenomenal.
Bradshaw said the current site for the market is a great location for a summer market because it’s central, people know where it is and it has lots of parking. He said they are already involved with a year-round market in Calgary and it has changed their business and made it so they don’t get much of a break.
“A summer market means you finish and there is an end to things, where if you’re a year-round vendor it’s every weekend,” Bradshaw said. “I think it’s the next step for a city like Red Deer.”
But he said a year-round market is a big commitment for vendors — a commitment he doesn’t know if every vendor is willing to firstname.lastname@example.org