The Market at Red Deer is starting to look more full now that the outdoor gathering limit has increased.
When the public market began its season on the May long weekend, only 50 people were allowed at outdoor mass gatherings. But last week, the provincial government increased that limit.
Now, 200 people are able to enter Red Deer’s public market at a time. The event is held every Saturday in the Servus Arena parking lot.
“We’re monitoring the amount of people coming in and coming out – we have one exit and one entrance,” said assistant manager Patrick Moffat.
“We’re asking people to keep their physical distance, and if they can’t do that, we’ve asked them politely to wear their mask.”
Moffat said while Red Deer is fortunate to have had very few cases of COVID-19, it’s still important to be safe.
“I don’t think we’re in a situation where we need to panic, but we should still worry about it and be cautious. It’s a good thing to care about others,” Moffat said.
Moffat said the most important thing is to see the event grow “carefully” moving forward.
“It’s a real challenge to have an event that relies on getting people together, but at the same time, keeping them apart. It’s been challenging for us and everyone here,” he said, adding last Saturday was one of the nicest days for the market this season.
“I think everyone is measuring to that idea. They’re saying, ‘We’re coming down to the market, we’re going to buy the stuff we want to get. We aren’t going to spend too long there, but we’re going to see our friends and go on our way.’ That’s the general idea.”
The market, which runs until Thanksgiving weekend, has been growing slowly since the beginning of the season, said Moffat.
“The people of this community, the people of central Alberta, and the people of Alberta, are showing they care about what’s happening to each other with COVID, and now we’re able to go out and see each other in a somewhat limited way.”
It’s been a slow year for vendors so far, Moffat added.
“We’ve checked with other markets and it’s been slow elsewhere, too,” he said.
“That’s understandable. A lot has happened. But now we’re coming back. It’s a humbling experience and it makes us think. Things won’t always be what we expect, so we have to continue to work hard, get people back and do the things we need to do to make people happy.”
The market, founded by Moffat’s father Dennis, is in its 50th season. The market will be passed down to Patrick and his sister Fiona after this year.