After spending three years in temporary digs, the Saturday morning Red Deer Public Market is returning to its familiar downtown arena location next week.
The popular outdoor weekly market will start its 49th season on May 18, where it first began — in the parking lot in front of Servus Arena and the Red Deer Curling Club.
From 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., market-goers can peruse a wide variety of produce, craft, plant and antiques booths, said market manager Dennis Moffatt, who’s thrilled to reopen at this central spot — even though it’s going to be a little tighter than in previous years.
Although the outdoor public market he started in 1970 had once sprawled to 320 booths, only about 200 sellers can be squeezed in front of the arena this year, because of the new parking lot configuration and city stipulations, added Moffatt.
The market had been operating in the Memorial Centre parking lot for the past three years, while the Servus Arena and parking lot were being rebuilt.
In discussing a return to the previous location, city officials told Moffat there can no longer be a row of booths directly in front of the curling club, or along its western side. This will leave the market about the same size as it was in front of the Memorial Centre, he said.
Part of 43rd Street will be blocked off to traffic on Saturday morning, however, allowing for some more booths on both sides of the road.
Free public parking will be available across the street — directly east of the Red Deer Tennis Club courts, as well as north of Pioneer Lodge.
Moffatt remains concerned that larger supply trucks for the booths will have to make some tight manoeuvres in the rebuilt arena lot, and that the kids’ bouncy castle can’t set up on grass near the skateboard park.
But he’s confident a solution to both problems will be found — although the inflatable castle likely won’t be available for the first few Saturdays.
Market-goers should find most of their favourite vendors, as well as a some new ones, said Moffatt, who’s presenting a mix of everything from flowers, to vegetables, to specialty products and “junk tables,” to keep things interesting.
A special celebration is already being planned for the 2020 market, which will be the 50th. Moffatt is then planning to retire and leave the market organization to his children.
Meanwhile, Red Deer’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market, operated by the Downtown Business Association, will return to Little Gaetz Avenue at 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on May 29.
Fresh food from nearby farms including meat,vegetables and fruit, baked goods and handmade items will be available at this accredited Alberta Farmers’ Market.
Note: Dogs are not welcome at either market, according to health regulations.