After some moments where it was unclear whether the Red Deer Public Market would be able to open on time, the weekly event officially kicked off its 51st season Saturday.
This is the first year brother-sister team Patrick and Fiona Moffat will be running the market, after their father Dennis Moffat retired following the 50th season last year.
“It’s a social meeting place for the community. It all started with his idea in 1970 and now we’re here in 2021. It’s hard to believe,” Patrick Moffat said during the first market of the year in the parking lot of Servus Arena.
“Dennis never did it for himself. He did it for the people – the community. He did it for everyone who comes down here, the vendors. He’d get so excited for opening day every year. He came down for a bit today.”
Patrick said “it’s a blessing” the market was able to open on time this year.
“The fact of the matter is when the new restrictions came out a few weeks ago, we thought we were going to be on the list. Fortunately that didn’t happen,” he said.
This is the second year the market is being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Patrick said he believes things are moving a little more smoothly out of the gate this season.
“More people are wearing their masks – they seem more comfortable wearing them. They’re protecting each other by doing it,” he said, adding he did see some people without masks.
“We try our best. If people are congregating too much and it doesn’t look like a bubble, we’ll go up and say something. There is a pandemic.”
The event runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. until Thanksgiving weekend. Patrick said the first market of the year was a big success.
“I think everyone’s happy. I’m surprised to see there are so many people here already. We had people here right at 7 o’clock shopping. They were hungry to get down here,” he said.