July 12th, 2024

Farmers’ market returns to Festival Square downtown this summer

By Herald on July 4, 2024.

Gail and David Butler describe their organic baking mix products to Jeremy Lauzon on Wednesday morning at the downtown Lethbridge farmers' market at Festival Square. Herald photo by Justin Sibbet

Justin Sibbet – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Residents and vendors populated Festival Square to partake in the first downtown farmers’ market of the year despite lackluster weather on Wednesday.

The Lethbridge and District Exhibition, in conjunction with the Downtown BRZ, hosted the first downtown Lethbridge farmers’ market for this summer, with the event scheduled to run every Wednesday until early September.

Paul Kingsmith, Director of Community Engagement with the LDE, says the return of this event is always a welcome sight.

“The downtown Lethbridge farmers’ market is one of the highlights of the year for Lethbridge and District Exhibition,” said Kingsmith. “It’s just a great experience for everyone and something we’re really proud of and excited to have going another year.”

He says the market has become a staple for many living or working downtown as it allows them to purchase some of their groceries right in their neighbourhood.

“The way that it’s becoming part of the experience in downtown is just great.”

Furthermore, he says the market is getting bigger and better every year while offering consistency at the same time.

“We’ve just seen it grow each and every year and we expect the same this year,” said Kingsmith.

While the market is becoming more popular among residents, there is a significant impact on local businesses owners as well, including the vendors who set up shop every week, rain or shine.

One such business is Gail’s Good 4U Baking Mixes, owned by Gail and David Butler. The Raymond duo have been operating for about six years and David says there is nothing better than the atmosphere of a farmers’ market.

“I really enjoy the farmers’ markets because I get to interact with people and have fun.”

Meanwhile, Gail says they have been rooted mostly in farmers’ markets, but the experience has enabled them to slowly expand into new frontiers.

“We’ve been doing mostly farmers’ markets for the whole time but we’re just starting to break into the retail market.”

The Butler’s organic baking brand was but a small sample of everything on offer at the first of many markets’ downtown. Sarah Amies, Downtown BRZ’s executive director, says the fruits and vegetables are the most sought-after products, but there is a lot more than just lettuce and beets.

“We love, obviously, the fresh produce, I mean that’s what we’re all desperate for, right? Produce that was grown within a hundred miles of our home which is so great,” said Amies. “Then there’s all the arts and crafts. We have some such funky artisans in our city.”

While those funky artisans may be there today, Amies says they may not be there tomorrow, so there is always a new reason to check out the farmers’ market, even if you’ve been to a previous one.

“The people you see here today may be back next week, but they may be replaced by someone else. So, it’s really important to come on down and have a look at all of the variety that there is,” said Amies.

As the event is held downtown, Amies says there may be concerns about safety, but such concerns should be alleviated.

“People are aware of the downtown and perhaps a little more willing to come down because, as the spaces are engaged, you see wholesome, great activity,” said Amies. 

“I don’t see anybody being aggressed; I don’t see anybody nervous. I just see everybody just really enjoying themselves and that is the key to keeping the downtown engaged and relevant.”

The downtown farmers’ market is held every Wednesday at Festival Square from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. from now until September 4. Attendance is free for everyone.

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