Michael Tomalty performs a few tricks in front of his booth at the Red Deer Public Market Saturday.

Public market opens for the season

Summer got started in Red Deer the way it does every year, with large parts of the city descending on the Red Deer Public Market.

Summer got started in Red Deer the way it does every year, with large parts of the city descending on the Red Deer Public Market.

At the market since 4 a.m. Saturday morning, Dennis Moffat surveyed the set up, chatting with vendors and soaking in the atmosphere.

For 44 years now he has been the driving force behind the public market that takes over the Red Deer Arena’s parking lot every Saturday through the summer.

“People love the market,” said Moffat. “It’s their market and all I do is run it and do the work.”

Dressed in his trademark overalls and cowboy hat, he carries a board with a list of all the stalls and vendors who have set up for the morning

“We didn’t turn anybody away today, that’s a big plus,” said Moffat. “It’s always this mad on the first day. But it’s an exciting mad.”

Though he was unable to get everyone in to where they wanted to be, with the help of his son and some other helpers they were able to get everyone in and setting up shop early Saturday morning.

“The turnout is exceeding my expectations,” said Moffat. “Everybody seems happy to be back.

“They’re anxious, after that long winter they’re anxious to get out and breathe some air.”

Vendors ranged from food to clothes to antiques to lawn decor to plants to sports memorabilia and everything in between.

“You can almost buy anything,” said Moffat. “Except illegal things.”

With the parking lot of the Red Deer Arena packed full of vendors and some having to set up on 43rd Street, which is blocked off for the market, the place was overflowing with merchants.

Moffat thinks in the future they may need to start using a waiting list just due to the volume of people wanting to set up shop.

Getting the market ready is a lot of work. Moffat said potential vendors start calling in December wanting booths and he averaged about six people a day calling, wanting to get in the market.

“Last year we had almost perfect weather,” said Moffat. “One day we had rain and still managed to have a good market.

“We’re like farmers, it all depends on the weather.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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