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Day one of 2024 St. Albert Farmers' Market a success

Despite cool temperatures and a few bouts of rain, crowds flocked to the streets checking out 275 vendor booths

Temperatures were a cool 10 C when the St. Albert Market Farmers’ Market launched the 2024 season on Saturday, June 8. 

Blustery winds and sporadic rain threatened to disrupt the socializing and sales of 275 vendors set up along St. Anne Street, St. Anne Promenade and St. Thomas Street. 

But instead of visitors running for cover during bouts of rain, everyone appeared to be in a festive mood.  

“The weather has certainly not deterred people,” said Cathy Gilbert of Prairie Pearls. The Sturgeon County resident sells charcuterie boards, spoon rests for stoves, bowls and hand-painted gourds turned into birdhouses. 

“Gourds are my most popular item. I even had people waiting to buy the gourds this morning. And I think people are enjoying themselves today because it’s not packed, and you can take the time and browse at booths. When it’s hot, it sometimes gets too crowded.” 

Although it’s difficult to obtain an exact number of visitors, several vendors polled estimated anywhere from 5,000 to 9,000 people strolled through the open-air market. 

Jason Simmonds, creator of TKO Beards, has sold beard washes, beard oils, beard balms and conditioners for men at the market since the pandemic in 2020. His moisturizing but non-oily products are even attracting women.

“Considering the weather, it’s been really good. St. Albert is a really good market. At any other markets, if the weather is bad, people don’t show up. But at St. Albert everybody still shows up,” said Simmonds. 

Over at Great North Cookie Company from Spruce Grove, Mariah Beaudoin was wearing a heavy coat and a smile on her face. The cookie booth sells gourmet soft cookies with different flavours rotated weekly. 

“The sales are excellent for a first day. Everybody showed up for us. It’s such a supportive community.” 

Further down St. Anne Promenade, Andre D’Souza from The Fort Distillery said, “It’s crazy to see how many people are despite the rain. At one point, I thought I’d run out of Espresso Martini." 

The Fort Distillery booth, whose house whisky is sold at Rogers Place, also displayed mixed cocktails and spirits in glass bottles. But the gusts of wind occasionally created a few shaky moments bringing up images of shattered glass and alcohol splashed on the sidewalk. 

“But come rain or shine, our product moves quite a bit. This is hands-down our best market.” 

There were also a few touch-and-go moments for Hamish Noel, a steel pan drummer, who has been a market staple for two decades. Noel was playing while sheltered under a round patio umbrella and was splashed with rain at one point. 

“It was wet, but I always look forward to the first day. I like to see the people and what’s here today.” 

Surprisingly, he reveals he’s more comfortable in cloudy weather than hot, sunny weather. 

“If it rains, you pour the water out of the drums. If it’s too sunny, it stretches the metal.” 

Ashley Gaetz and her husband Shawn strolled through the market, picking up fruit, juice and cheesecake. Ashley, who is a regular, described the day as “quiet,” with Shawn adding, “Today’s been my favourite day because it’s so quiet.” 

Julien Kirby, a shopper from Spruce Grove, stops by the market every few weeks for a big pickup. This week he was on the hunt for honey, cider and cream liqueur.

“There’s so much variety here. If you won’t find it here, it won’t be at the other markets." 

The summer market operates every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Saturday, Oct. 12. A free park-and-ride runs from St. Albert Centre Transit Exchange between 9:40 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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