A sharp chill in the morning air and pumpkins on fruit and vegetable stands were sure signs the Red Deer Public Market season was drawing to a close.
“It was a really good year,” said Patrick Moffat, who runs the market with father, Dennis.
“We had probably one of our best years ever.”
The market set a new vendor record over the summer, with 256 showing up to shop their wares one Saturday, Moffat said.
Weather also co-operated, with only two or three “suspect days” and none so bad to scare away shoppers.
A new experiment this year, closing off a portion of 43rd Street to vehicles during the 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. market seemed to go over well.
“It took some of the congestion out of the one part in front of the arena,” he said. It also created a safer environment along the street.
Moffat said he’d like to see the road closed again next year, but that decision will be made after market organizers do their usual post-season review with the city and RCMP.
Sherry Grodecki was manning her Young Living Essential Oils table on 43rd Street on Saturday and said it was a good year.
She liked the new configuration, which allowed vendors to see people as they left the parking lot and headed to the market.
“You met a lot of people and made a lot of contacts,” she said.
Nearby, Dan Deacon, of Vernon, B.C.’s Deacon’s Farm Market, also believes the new setup is worth keeping.
“Yes, I think so, because growth is good and they’re growing the market.”
Deacon, who was located inside the market last year, said sales were down a little although he’s not sure it’s because of this new location on 43rd. He didn’t have extra employees helping him this year, which may have been a factor, he said.
Another vendor, who identified herself only as Cindy, believes the street-side vendors will see more business as the public gets used to the new setup.
Her business selling jams, jellies and handmade toques did pretty well, she said.
“I’m satisfied. Of course, everyone wants to make a million,” she said with a laugh.
There was one very real bonus of the street location, she said. “It’s warmer out here.”
This was the first year at Red Deer’s market for Edmonton couple Don Charnaw and Karen Samuels, who were selling the Juice Plus, a whole food-based product that provides nutrition through 17 different fruits, vegetables and grains.
“It’s been fantastic for us,” said Charnaw, who said the couple intends to return next year.
The only drawback is the commute.
“I’m not so sure it’s worth getting up at 4 o’clock, but it’s worth the drive,” he joked.
Brad McConnell, of Summerland, B.C.-based McConnell’s Orchard Products, said the street location made it easier to pull in his truck and park.
“The only thing I don’t like about it is you have take down faster, so you’re in a rush,” he said, explaining the vendors on the road have to make sure they are cleared away before the road re-opens.
Moffat said that is one of the issues they will be looking at as they review the season.