The Red Deer Public Market will open this week despite a somewhat chilly forecast. (File photo by Advocate staff)

The Red Deer Public Market will open this week despite a somewhat chilly forecast. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Long-weekend plans can be made in Central Alberta without threat of snow

Ellis Bird Farm is among regional attractions to open Monday

Cross your fingers: Sun and not snow is in the forecast for the long weekend, when the public market opens for the season and campers head out for the Great Outdoors.

Saturday’s temperature in the Red Deer area is expected to climb from -2 C to a high of 12 C. Sun is expected throughout the three-day weekend, with temperatures expected to hit 16 C on Sunday, and 17 C on Victoria Day Monday.

Mountain parks will be chillier, and so will early mornings in Central Alberta.

But when the Red Deer Public Market opens for the season on Saturday, operator Patrick Moffat won’t be too worried. “It isn’t so much the rain and cold, it’s the wind. As long as it isn’t too windy, I will be happy…

“We are really looking forward to starting up,” Moffat added on Thursday. “We’re really excited to see everybody.”

Patrons will be welcomed back by about 100 market vendors in the parking lot of the Downtown Servus Arena. There used to be 200 to 250 vendors in pre-COVID days, and Moffat believes a growing number will be returning this season as illnesses drop further.

“I am confident there will be more vendors than the start of last year’s season.”

Customers can peruse booths offering everything from coffee and food items to jewelry, clothing and vintage collectibles. An array of potting plants will also be available to inspire local gardeners to start sprucing up their yards with some colourful annuals.

The market, which runs from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., supports local entrepreneurs and operates outdoors with plenty of room to distance, added Moffat. “This year, we might even see some people without their masks on.”

Some regional attractions are also opening this weekend, including the Ellis Bird Farm on Monday,

Sunnybrook Farm already has its pigs, goats and other farm animals out. It will be open this weekend although its summer season will really kick off on May 28 with the Springtime on the Farm event.

The annual Woody’s Marathon in Red Deer is also set for Sunday, May 22. The full marathon kicks off at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, hundreds of campers plan to head out to the West Country for a weekend in the Great Outdoors.

This year, they will find more camping sites open than in 2020 — perhaps due to a lifting of travel restrictions allowing more people to travel beyond Alberta’s borders.

Alberta Parks also opened its new year-round online reservation system in January, which is considered a success. New rules, including a limit of 10 days per reservation instead of 16, seems to be freeing up more camping spots.

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