Thousands of visitors swarmed the 39th annual seasonal opener of the Red Deer Public Market on Saturday.
Shoppers snapped up locally grown vegetables and stood patiently in line patiently for cooked sausages.
Marketgoers also discovered an auctioneer selling off scores of bikes, plus an expanded inflatable playing area for the children.
Scores of people donned T-shirts and shorts since Mother Nature was finally co-operating.
Red Deer’s Nancy Mogg and her husband Jonathan brought their two young daughters to the market which takes place near the Red Deer Arena.
“I don’t come every year,” she said. “It almost feels like going to the Calgary Stampede. It’s exciting, there’s lots of people, lots of energy.”
Darren Petersen of Red Deer was among the new vendors selling their wares to the holiday weekend crowd.
He operates a glassworks studio in his Woodlea neighbourhood home.
“We’ve sold for years in galleries and gift shops and we have an annual Christmas open house at our studio,” Petersen said. “We’re residential so we can’t really advertise. We’ve been told we’re Red Deer’s best kept secret.”
The multi-coloured vases and other pieces caught the attention of many shoppers.
Buskers sandwiched in between booths where they could. Among them were teenagers Ryley Surian, Ryan Kuly, Daniel Machuk and Cameron Ehnes — part of the newly formed Mulholland Drive band.
Surian, the band manager, watched on as the other three strummed the blues on their guitars.
“We won just won the Battle of the Bands at our high school,” said Kuly, a student of Notre Dame High School.
By mid-morning, they had gathered a whack of change in the open guitar case, but they weren’t paying too much attention.
“We’re not really playing for money,” Kuly said.
“We’re just a couple of friends who want to have a good time,” added Machuk.
Market manager Dennis Moffat was on site around 4 a.m. He knew the start of the season would be busy. He’s had inquiries since December.
He figures at least 160 vendors set up for the first day of the season, which runs until the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Officially, the market runs at 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
And yearly, he must tell some marketgoers one rule — no dogs.
“We still have to work at it,” he said.