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(FARMERS MARKET GOES BIG: Hundreds of visitors flocked to downtown Merritt to partake in the expanded Farmers Market. Photo courtesy: Roger White.)

There were plenty of smiles to go around this weekend as the Nicola Valley Farmers Market presented its weekly summertime market in a new expanded location on Quilchena Ave.

Since re-opening in July due to Covid-19, the Farmers Market has been located across from Baillie House on Vogt St.

However, due to the increased number of vendors and to celebrate with those exhibitors who would traditionally be at the Lower Nicola Garlic Festival which was postponed this year due to the pandemic; the association opted to changed venues with the co-operation of the Merritt and District Chamber of Commerce and the City of Merritt.

"It's been a great event," said Ryan Wuthe of the Merritt Chamber of Commerce. "The feedback we have received from everyone who has walked the market has been amazing."

Wuthe added that due to the pandemic, the Nicola Valley area was ready for an event such as an expanded farmers market. He also gave huge accolades to the Farmers Market Association for the safety measures taken to protect both vendors and customers alike.

"The Farmers Market Association has done a great job with the layout this weekend to allow for proper social distancing, making sure everyone travels in the same direction," he said. "Plus this foresight allowed customers to support local businesses downtown."

Local area farmer Lucas Handley said that he was elated with the turn out of eager customers looking to purchase their wares. The owner of 3 Bar Farms in Merritt added that it has been a trying year for farmers all over the province with Covid-19.

"It's been a tough year. At the height of the pandemic, there was a shortage of seeds to plant so that set us back several weeks," Handley added. "The other issue we had this year was getting the word out that we (3 Bar Farms) were still open for business."

The Farmers Market also expanded it's market hours until 4 p.m. during the event.

 

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