Sunshine and temperatures in the mid-teens welcomed thousands of visitors to the first Sidney Farmer’s Market of the season Sunday in the parking lot of the Mary Winspear Centre.
Darren Westwood, market manager with West Coast Impressions, said just after 1 p.m. that the market had attracted an estimated 2,500 people since its opening at 10 a.m. with a scheduled closure at 2 p.m. “Which we are really happy about,” he added. “Last year, mid-summer, we are about 4,000 (per session) during the heat of the summer.”
That time and so it appears for that matter, spring itself, still lies in the future. But after weeks of cool temperatures and rain, the weather cooperated Sunday, much to Westwood’s pleasure.
Sidney Farmer’s Market runs every Sunday from May 8 to Sept. 25 and co-exist with Sidney Street Market, also organized by West Coast Impressions. Sidney Street Market is scheduled to start on June 2, running every Thursday until Sept. 1, also in the parking lot of the Mary Winspear Centre.
Westwood said this will be the first time Westcoast Impressions is running two markets that are overlapping for several weeks but expects each to be different. “Thursday night is a traditional blended market,” he said. “And Sunday is strictly farmers’ market – very different vendors and very different crowds that come to shop,” he said. While Sunday crowds tend to be from the Peninsula, Thursday crowds tend to come from all over Greater Victoria.
Among the visitors checking out the vendors Sunday were Sidney residents Riley and Bobby Eng with their nine-month-old son Arrow, riding on his father’s back.
“We were on a walk and we noticed the tents,” said Riley, adding the family had visited the Sunday market last summer as well.
Bobby said the Engs are excited about the return of the Thursday market as well. “You go around, you get a snack and you just enjoy the nice weather in the summer.”
It’s also about supporting local, said Riley. The market was a huge part of Sidney’s sense of community when it was on Beacon Avenue, she added. “It’s hard to say with this one because it was during COVID, it was a reason to get out. So I’m not sure what it is going to feel like this year.”
As for vendors, they are also happy to be back. Doug Eng, who owns and operates Glanford Greenhouses, said he had a busy morning and found himself short product as the afternoon wound down.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s nice to see all the people. My regulars recognize me and I’m glad that I am here.”
Eng, a long-time regular at the Sidney Street Market, will be part of the Sunday market until the Thursday market starts. “I don’t want to stretch myself too thin,” he said, adding that a mid-week market is actually better from the farmer’s perspective. “Your harvest is more even,” he said. “You don’t push everything to the weekend.”
Carolyn Green, owner of Flame Work Designs, is also glad to be back. “I think the season is going to really well … People are excited to come back out again.”
Mufaro Marimba, a Sidney-based band playing music primarily from Zimbabwe and southern Africa, was also on hand to entertain the crowd. For locals, the band’s music provides the soundtrack for the street market experience and its presence was an audible signal of what may lay ahead.
Westwood is certainly excited. “It’s a great feeling to give this to the people,” he said. “I have a couple of other jobs as well, but it just feels great to give it back to the people.”
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