Although we’ve been quiet on the news/announcements front, it’s been a busy several weeks with lots of dynamics taking place behind the scenes. Let’s start with the good news!
We are having a very good season, in all forms of comparisons:
- 2021 Vendor Sales (YTD): $2,797,585
- 2020 Vendor Sales (same period): $765,178 (+265%)
- 2019 Vendor Sales (same period): $2,471,395 (+13%)
We were fairly recently up over 30% when compared to 2019, but have experienced a bit of a pullback the last few weeks as “Back to School” and “Back to Worries” have returned. But the start of the season has been strong, and we expect for Holiday Market and other end-of-season events to be productive.
Now, the bad news. The most recent strain of COVID has impacted our community more quickly and directly than the first wave. We have several vendors, staff/family and production associates who have contracted the new variant, and some are not doing very well at all. We do not believe they contracted the strain during a market, but like all of us - they were moving about the community, doing normal things, and now are struggling.
Some were vaccinated, and others were not – the vaccinated are generally doing better than the unvaccinated, but the vaccine is not a shield of immunity. It does appear to lessen the symptoms, and greatly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization. Age, overall health and other underlying problems are also contributing factors.
Frankly, it’s frustrating for all of us - not to mention unsettling. There is current talk that these waves may continue for the next several years; we are in a longer-term marathon, not a quick race to the finish line. I had hoped for the vaccine to quickly make everything better, and perhaps it has, but things are still broken. Life just isn’t simple, is it?
Fall Market Strategy
Currently, we are not subject to any government mandates regarding COVID protocols, face masks or other measures - but I will not be surprised if some/all are reinstated as we move into the colder weather months. We do have face masks available at the front desk for our guests, staff, and vendors – and hand washing habits should not have to be reminded. I personally have started to wear a mask indoors and during crowded events, and the Stadium is moving towards a masked-indoors policy (per CDC guidelines). It seems likely that Holiday Market will also fall under the CDC masked-indoors policy.
Keeping the Markets open has been my priority for the last 18 months, and to that point I am imposing several Market policy changes effective immediately:
- new vendor applications will be suspended indefinitely; exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis, with priority towards farms and local foods
- market vendor capacities will be reduced slightly, with more outdoor spaces utilized
- walk-up registrations will be suspended after this weekend
- individual vendors should take measures to design booth layouts in a manner which is sensitive to crowd flow, and implement safety/sanitation measures to protect yourselves and your customers.
Just so that we’re perfectly clear: if you wish to attend a market, you must register in advance so that we can maintain reduced vendor capacities; walk-ups are no longer allowed.
Reducing crowd congestion by expanding walkways is an effective method for keeping our outdoor markets comfortable, safer and more spacious. We are working on new dining tables/areas, and currently have no plans to reduce our food trucks, music, or other elements.
If we must plan to live with COVID for the next several years, then it’s our job to adapt and find ways to celebrate the fun things in life we cherish in safe and healthy manners. I don’t believe shutting everything down and going back into isolation is the right answer, but I do feel that implementing basic disease-fighting techniques is the responsible approach forward.