Farmer’s Market in full bloom with COVID precautions
After postponing a month due to the current pandemic, the Owatonna Famer’s Market is now back on. The weekly event officially reopened on Saturday, June 6.
Due to the current circumstances, safety precautions are a top priority. “We have tables set back from the sidewalk and tables placed in front for social distancing,” said John Meixner, who oversees the farmer’s market. “We also recommend vendors wear masks and have hand sanitizer.”
Meixner said that there has a been a bit of a drop off in this year’s vendors and attendees but nothing too drastic. “We have about 70 vendors signed up, it’s down some,” he explained. “Maybe some people have been apprehensive.”
Nancy Hallenberger, who has been selling baked goods at the farmer’s market for 15 years, said that she was one of the many vendors looking forward to the market reopening. “The attendance is building each week,” she said.
“Basically, we’re trying to keep social distancing and we’re offering sanitizer,” she said of the safety precautions. “The last few weeks you see a lot more people with masks on just walking around and seeing what’s going on.”
While the attendance is down, sales are still relatively steady. “The first week I sold completely out of all my baked goods,” Hallenberger said. “The next week I sold three-fourths of what I had, so it all depends.”
“I kept calling and asking if it was still going to go on,” Hallenberger said after admitting that she was a little worried this year’s farmer’s market would be canceled entirely. “Finally, they let me know that they were thinking of opening in June. They had to get their instructions from the state as to what regulations we had to do.”
Meixner explained that he was certain the market would eventually be a go at some point this summer. “I knew we were going to delay it, but I wasn’t so sure we’d be open as soon as we are,” he said. “A lot of people were waiting for it.”
“I enjoy coming down here and I wouldn’t have done this for so many years if I didn’t enjoy coming down here and seeing people I haven’t seen for a long time and meeting new people,” Hallenberger said of the event.
The farmer’s market has been held every Saturday at Central Park in Owatonna since 1999 from May to October. This year the hours have been expanded to run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.