In its 45th year, the Red Deer Farmer’s Market kicked off in the City last weekend.
Despite the wet and cold weather, about 150 vendors were selling their wares and hundreds of people flocked to the Red Deer Arena grounds to enjoy the annual pastime.
“It’s always an exciting time for me and my family,” said Dennis Moffat, operator of the Red Deer Farmer’s Market. “It’s the start of our summer season and I think that is one of the reasons why people like it – it means summer is not too far away.”
On any given weekend from May long until the Thanksgiving long weekend, upwards of 200 vendors can be found at the market.
Located in the parking lot of the Pidherney Curling Centre and the Red Deer Arena, changes for the next couple of seasons are on the horizon.
Red Deer City council has approved the demolition and reconstruction of the Red Deer Arena in anticipation of the 2019 Canada Winter Games. As construction happens on the arena, the Farmer’s Market will be forced to find a temporary location.
“I’m in the midst of searching for it. I’ve had some offers but nothing is for public consumption yet,” said Moffat. “I have a lot of faith and I am an optimist that we will find a good place. It’s Red Deer’s market and they will find it wherever we go.”
He added ideally he would like to keep the market in the downtown area.
“There is a great financial boom for the City of Red Deer. It brings a lot of people to town and we do a lot of business in the short period that we operate – 88.5 hours over the season,” he said. “We generate more than $5 million worth of business during that time.”
The Red Deer Arena will be demolished next year. It is anticipated the project will be completed in the fall of 2018. The total cost is pegged at $15.3 million.
“Council was given two options with respect to the future of the arena. Because of the repairs required for the roof, we would either need to spend approximately $9-$10 million just to repair the roof. Instead of throwing good money after that, council decided to invest the $15 million for a complete rebuild of the arena so that the life of that facility would last approximately 25-30 years,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Recreation is working closely with affected community sports teams that will be affected by the construction.”
She added the annual market is an important part of the community.
“The annual weekend market is a much-loved event for Red Deerians and we need to accommodate and make provisions for the market both during construction season at the Red Deer Arena, as well as positioning it for success in the long run once construction is complete,” said Veer. “My understanding at this time is that there are various options to accommodate the market in the short-term and particularly during construction. In the long run, the construction of the Red Deer Arena will actually position the market even better because of the upgrades to paving and the enhanced washroom access.”
Sarah Cockerill, director of community services for the City of Red Deer, said the City would like to see the market back in its current location once construction of the new arena is complete.
“We’re very happy to be in partnership with the Farmer’s Market and we hope that they come back once construction on the arena is finished,” she said. “We are also including the Farmer’s Market in all of our planning and design consultations as it relates to the new Red Deer Arena and what that might look like in terms of enhanced facilities that they can tap into from the outside. We are definitely working with Mr. Moffat to ensure the market has a home following the temporary move.
“We want to work with the market, the vendors and the community to ensure this continues to be something that we cherish on Saturday mornings.”