It had been many years since the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market had come to the community when Heather Redmond-Sutton, Anna Wheeler and Jess Kampen set up their vendor tables last summer. Now, after a successful summer of market evenings, the trio is excited to do it again.
“I’m excited,” Wheeler said. “I mean, we were excited last year. But now we know what to expect.”
Redmond-Sutton, who had come out to Pioneer Park with Wheeler for an interview with the Observer agreed.
“Agassiz itself was really raring to go,” Redmond-Sutton added. “Last year we didn’t know how long it would take to get the word out or if people would be excited about it after the market had been dark for a couple seasons. We didn’t know.
“And really, they were there. They came out.”
Last summer, the trio had set up the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market in Pioneer Park with few expectations of how it would go. But they said the success they experienced was incredible, with around 300 people coming to the market each Thursday night.
“People that came to the market came to shop,” Wheeler explained. “You get some other markets in the area that people come and just use it as an outing, which again is totally fine.
“But everybody that came to our market, shopped. And our vendors appreciated that so much.”
The market has about a 75 per cent of its vendors from last year returning again this year, and already has an average of 18 to 20 vendors each market. (The largest market of 2018 had only 23 vendors.)
“It’s really wonderful to walk into this market,” Redmond-Sutton said. “It’s not a flea market, it’s not a trade fair kind of situation.
“It’s people standing behind tables of stuff that they have made with their hands or grown in their own plot of land. It’s really inspiring to be there.”
According to Wheeler and Redmond-Sutton, the market will be building on its success from last year by incorporating some new ideas and making some small changes.
The first, and perhaps largest change, is that the District of Kent’s Twilight Concert Series will now coincide with the market nights, which will be taking place every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. starting June 27. The Twilight Concert Series goes from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 18, Aug. 1 and Aug. 15.
“We hoped that doing both of those on the same night would increase traffic to both events,” Wheeler explained. The half-hour crossover between the concert and the market would hopefully inspire more people to spend their evening in the park.
The market is also seeing some other, smaller additions to its offerings.
Buskers will now be playing at most markets — there are still some spaces available for local musicians to sign up and busk in the park — and new vendors, including a local distillery will be attending.
Children will no longer be able to be left unsupervised at the kid’s zone, which is run by the District of Kent. With up to 50 children coming in and out of the zone each market, the trio felt it was too much responsibility for the one district staff member at the kid’s zone.
But perhaps the biggest change the three women are hoping to see for this year’s market is an increase in volunteers.
“We do the market as a community building event,” Wheeler explained. “We don’t get paid for any of what we do … and we’re happy to do it.
“We so appreciate the fact that people in the community have supported the market by coming out and shopping; we just need a few more people in the community to support the market by helping.”
Last year, Wheeler, Redmond-Sutton and Kampen set up and took down the supplies for each of the 11 markets with the help of their husbands, who they said were “volun-told.” This year, they’re hoping for volunteers who can offer to do take down or set up at least once during the season.
They’re also looking for people who would be interested in volunteering at the kid’s zone, or helping vendors get set up before markets.
If there are students in the community looking to get their work experience hours in before they graduate, there’s opportunities for them too.
Although the trio has already approached AESS about work experience opportunities, and is in communication with the school’s guidance counsellor, they’re also open to other students as well.
“We’re not limiting it to just AESS,” Wheeler said. “If there’s other high school students who are home schooled in the community, we’re happy to have other people involved.”
This year’s market season begins on June 27 at 4 p.m., and will run every Thursday until Aug. 29.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the market, busking at the market, or having a vendor table with the market is invited to email the Agassiz Farm Fresh Market at firstname.lastname@example.org.