Farmers' market opens Saturday
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 06:00 am
For many shoppers, visiting the St. Albert Farmers’ Market is a weekly highlight – browsing, walking, sampling and just being in the centre of town mingling with crowds.
There are just four days until the 32nd annual St. Albert Farmers’ Market officially opens Saturday, June 14 for an 18-week season.
More and more people – not just chefs, cooks and travellers – are making the local market a destination. The St. Albert Chamber of Commerce bills the event as the largest outdoor market in Western Canada, boasting more than 250 vendors. Last year, it attracted about 15,000 to 20,000 people every day.
Market manager Debbie Grant believes numbers could increase this year due to the market’s expansion further south on St. Anne Street.
Catering to new culinary trends and consumer requests, several new food trucks will be stationed along St. Anne Street and around the St. Albert Place plaza.
More than hotdogs and hamburgers, Aussie Tucker introduces sandwiches, cakes, bacon and egg rolls and yes, pukked pork. The Crooked Fork brings to the table crepes, pretzels, shrimp cakes and pasta while Perogy Princess ladles out perogies, cabbage rolls, kubasa and borscht soup.
In addition to a demand for a larger assortment of prepared ethnic foods, more gluten-free items are the big trend and will make an impact on shoppers, Grant says.
“More vendors are recognizing the necessity of gluten-free items in their products. Vendors are making changes based on customer requests.”
In recognition of National Aboriginal Day, the market has themed its opening day with aboriginal events that include drumming and dancing from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In addition, there is an all-day smudging ceremony, face painting and the not to be missed bannock and jam sampling. Poundmaker elder Virgil Erminskin and his helper Gary Littlechild will preside over ceremonies.
“We just wanted to do something different that hadn’t been done before – something that is culturally a part of our heritage,” said Grant.
The St. Albert Community Concert Band is also slated to entertain the crowds from 10 a.m. to noon.
Grant also mentioned that the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce and the city’s visitor information arm will share a tent this year.
“We want to encourage visitors to stay and experience the city and enjoy the features in the city. We have a beautiful city with lots of nice attractions and we hope to get people to extend their stay visiting different attractions,” Grant said.
The Botanic Bus that loops from the Enjoy Centre to the market and the botanic park will once again be on site.
“Last year we had a six-week trial period and we extended it from the feedback we got. That’s just another attraction people can visit.”
With virtually no parking – Grandin Park Plaza is closing its parking lot due to construction – there are few options left.
Grant encourages visitors to use the free park ’n ride available at St. Albert Centre. It will depart from the mall every Saturday at 9:40 a.m. and every 20 minutes thereafter until 3:20 p.m.
The St. Albert Farmers’ Market’s operating hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.