Durango Farmers Market opened as scheduled Saturday but with a few notable differences in our new coronavirus world, including expanded distance between booths, face coverings for vendors and hand-washing stations at the entrances.
Vendors’ tents were spaced at 6-foot-intervals at the TBK Bank parking lot to accommodate social-distancing requirements. Vendors were also limited to those selling food, and to discourage crowds from gathering, there was no live music.
At each entrance to the market along Eighth Street, hand-washing stations were set up and people were encouraged to use them when entering and leaving the grounds. Most vendors also had their own hand sanitizer available.
Jean-Paul Wright, owner of Wright Natural Bakery, said the first hour was a bit slow, but by 9 a.m., there were more people filtering through. He said overall he was amazed at the turnout for the market’s first day.
“My wife actually didn’t come to help out because she didn’t think many people would come today,” he said.
Andrea Owen, who was out shopping for lettuce, said it was great to see people out, many of them wearing face coverings. She said it makes her feel more comfortable.
She was not nervous to come to the market because “I read what the guidelines were and it seemed safe,” she said.
Zia Taqueria had its first day with a booth at the market, and employees said although it was more spaced out, they still saw 20 to 30 people stop by in the first couple of hours.
“Farmer Dave” Travieso, owner at PeaceTree Organix, had a chalk line drawn in front of his booth to remind people to stay a safe distance away. He said while it’s been slower than other years, it was a pretty good turnout considering the additional public health concerns.
“Everyone seems to be doing a good job with their self-discipline,” Travieso said of the use of face coverings and staying 6 feet away from others.
The market had previously said it consulted with the city of Durango and San Juan Basin Public Health about whether to open as scheduled and how best to protect the safety of the community. Farmers markets are also considered “essential services” by providing people an opportunity to buy food, according to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ regulations.
The mandatory face coverings for vendors and staff will continue at least through the end of May, market organizers said. Customers aren’t required but are encouraged to also wear face coverings when shopping at the market.
Some of the new market guidelines include:
If ill, do not enter the market.Wash or sanitize hands on entering and leaving the market.Do not linger – socialize out of the market area.Follow social-distancing guidelines.Vendors will serve you – do not handle products until you’ve paid.Do not consume food in the market area.Face coverings are advised.Pre-order and pre-pay when possible.When possible, pay by card or use exact change.The market’s hours are from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through September and from 9 a.m. to noon in October.