The Perry Farmers Market will kick off the 2020 season on Thursday, July 2, though it will look a little different than in years past.
“Restrictions are being lifted but we are still being cautious,” Perry Chamber Executive Director Lynsi Pasutti said of new safety precautions being implemented during this year’s Perry Farmers Market.
The market will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Thursdays starting on July 2 on Second Street between Willis and Warford.
COVID-19 concerns prompted the market to be pushed back for a month from its typical starting date. Pasutti said the chamber has been working to implement new guidelines to help keep vendors and shoppers safe.
One of the bigger changes, she said, includes the location. The market has typically been held in Josh Davis Plaza as well as a portion of Second Street.
“We’re going to have all of the vendors on Second Street,” Pasutti said. “We will be expanding our footprint. Before, we took up half a block now we’ll be taking up from Willis to Warford, that whole block.”
Another change will be the space between the vendors to help encourage social distancing. Vendors will be spaced on every other parking spot along Second Street from Willis to Warford.
“That will provide more space in between vendors and help us space out our lines,” Pasutti said.
By spacing out the booths, Pasutti added that it will also limit the number of vendors. She said they will have room for 12 vendors. While that may change if more vendors sign up, Pasutti said the market will start with 12 spaces.
“Because we’re going to be limited on how many vendor spaces we have, the priority will be given to returning full-season vendors with produce or food products,” Pasutti said.
Earlier restrictions had limited markets to only have vendors with food or produce items. The restrictions on craft vendors has since been lifted. Though Pasutti said the craft and handmade vendors may need to rotate out in order to accommodate the smaller amount of vendor spaces.
Pasutti added that they will be requiring all of the vendors to wear face masks or face coverings. Shoppers will also be encouraged to wear masks while at the market.
Another way to keep shoppers and vendors safe is to only allow vendors to handle produce.
“It’s going to be hard because we’re going to have to ask people to look with their eyes instead of their hands,” Pasutti said.
She added that they are requiring two individuals per vendor booth. One will handle money while the other handles the produce so there won’t be cross-contamination.
“The big thing is that we are going to have some hygiene guidelines. We will do our best to have them posted and have them out there with signage and Facebook posts and things like that so people hopefully feel welcome to come to the market and get their favorite items but in a safe way,” Pasutti said.
Though shoppers are encouraged to come to the market, pick up their items and then leave. Last year, the Perry Farmers Market included special themed nights every month with special guests like the Perry Police or Perry Fire Departments.
“As much as we absolutely loved those in the past, and we felt like we were really gaining momentum and it was really exciting, we are not planning any special events this year,” Pasutti said. “We’re just going with more of the grab-and-go theme instead of encouraging to gather and linger. It will be all about the products.”
Pasutti said they will continue to monitor the situation as the market progresses. Right now, she said the market will run through Sept. 24.
Pasutti encourages people to come out to the Perry Farmers Market for their fresh produce and other items while being safe.
“That’s the big thing. It’ll look and feel different, but it’s still important to have it and we encourage people to come out, but not to gather,” she said. “Come out for the produce, more of a grab-and-go feel to it. Be considerate of others, practice social distancing and (other guidelines).”
For more information, visit the Perry Farmers’ Market Facebook page.