Red Deer’s public market finished the season in style on Saturday, with glorious weather drawing another big crowd.
Mind you, gorgeous weather has been routine as the market celebrated 42 years this year.
“It was one of the best years we ever had,” said Dennis Moffat, who owns and operates the market with son Patrick.
“Weather-wise, we were very lucky. We only had one bad day.”
Usually, three or four Saturdays test the resilience of vendors during the season, he said.
Moffat said he’s never seen the number of shoppers that they had this year, estimating crowds at 12,000 to 16,000 depending on the Saturday.
The biggest change for this year’s market was an extension its hours to 2 p.m. from 12:30 p.m.
Extended hours will be back next year, but Moffat said closing will be trimmed back to 1 p.m. because vendors said the last hour was quiet.
That will also give vendors more time to make the Bentley market, which starts at 1:30 p.m. “I don’t want to hurt another market,” he said.
Woolen Wonders’ Beverly Williams was doing a brisk business on Saturday selling all things warm and woolly.
Williams said she liked the longer hours, but said 2 p.m. was a little late to wrap up.
“It could stop at 1:30 p.m. By 1:30 p.m. it’s kind of getting dead and everybody starts leaving.”
Now that the market is done, her next stop will be the Parkland Mall, where she will set up shop from Nov. 11 to Dec. 31.
While there’s been some talk of trying to start a year-round market in the city’s old bus barns, Williams said she’s not sure whether she would want to give up her winter break to sell all year.
At Nostalgia Soapworks, Judith Moody also enjoyed a good year.
“We were blessed by the weather,” she said.
Moody said the longer hours were a plus.
“Then people didn’t think , ‘Oh God, I have to hurry to get down there,’” she said.
It also created a more casual atmosphere, she believes.
Moody said a year-round indoor market would be great for Red Deer. But the key to its success will ensure it is well organized ahead of time.
“All the details have to be taken care of first.”
Jane Cameron, of The BBQ Hut, said the extended hours went over well with customers.
“I talked to a lot of people who said I’m so glad (because) I could never make it down by noon.”
Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Coun. Buck Buchanan were at the market along with several other councillors on Saturday chatting with residents.
Flewwelling said the year-round market idea seems to have lost some steam, partly over questions of who would own and operate it. The economic slowdown may also have been a factor.
Buchanan said the idea could get moved to the front burner again if someone came forward to push it. “But it needs a champion.”