Morinville Farmers' Market is flourishing
Growing market opens Friday
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Special Market Events
• June 21 and 22 – St. Jean Baptiste two-day market
• July 18 – Street Performers Festival
• Aug. 23 – Morinville Community Fair
• Sept. 12 – Annual Chili Cook-off
• Oct. 4 – Oktober Fest
The Morinville Farmers’ Market has long served as an urban outpost for vendors and consumers north of the area.
When the outdoor market opens this Friday at the Ray McDonald Sports Arena, it will be bigger and better than last year, a heartening statistic for market manager Korien Sampson.
“The stall listings for this year are 31-plus vendors. This time last year we had 20. In July and August when fruits and vegetables are ripe, we’re hoping to have 50 vendors.”
Spring was late in appearing, however greenhouse plants will be on sale along with horse tack, soap, crocheted dresses, jewelry, tattoos, paintings and hemp.
On the food side, mouthwatering fudge and cupcakes along with honey and beef raised 10 kilometres from Morinville will be highlighted.
“I’m expecting the fruit and vegetable producer to come in June 27, but it may be earlier,” Sampson said.
Anyone who builds up an appetite while shopping can stop by two food trucks. The Doghouse returns with its staple of hotdogs and hamburgers. New to the site is St. Albert’s Lo-Se-Ca organization, which will be manning a barbecued pizza truck.
Sampson would like to grow the market to 100 vendors.
“If you make it, bake it or grow it, I want to hear from you,” she said.
This is Sampson’s fourth season managing the market and in that time she’s altered the model and created a more viable arena for everyone concerned.
“When I started it was a sporadic market. They had anywhere from 10 to 15 vendors. Sometimes they had more. But some vendors left early if they sold out. It was disheveled and messy.”
Sampson was hired to rip the existing model apart and restructure it. From her own experience as a market customer, she recognized shoppers wanted to shake the hand of the woman who made bread or the man who ground the sausage meat.
“I started by following other markets. I created a set of rules and set boundaries. I made vendors arrive on time and they couldn’t leave before a set time.”
With new rules in place, vendors introduced more products. As the word spread, more visitors dropped by. Last year the Morinville market attracted 500-plus shoppers a day from St. Albert, Westlock, Athabasca and even seniors’ buses from northeast Edmonton.
“The Morinville Market is trying to create a community atmosphere so everyone knows you.”
Whereas the St. Albert Farmers’ Market stands out for its size, diversity and touristy clientele, the Morinville Farmers’ Market capitalizes on good old-fashioned, small-town customer service.
“We’re like a little family. Come this Friday, vendors who haven’t seen each other since last year will be giving out hugs. As for the service, we’re all about pleasing the customer. The customer is why we’re here and they have to be happy with the product,” Sampson said.
“We definitely move at a slower pace. It’s not crowded. Even if we had 100 vendors, it still wouldn’t be elbow-to-elbow room. It’s very calming. We are rural Alberta – very laid back.”