BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Area Farmers' Market started another season, although one that will be unlike those that came before it, as some operational changes are made in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"All things considered, given the fact that we were in the midst of a mild snowstorm, things went pretty well," said Meghan Houlihan, market manager. "We were happy with the turnout."
The farmers market opened Saturday, a week later than scheduled due to closures ordered by the governor in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. On April 24, Gov. Phil Scott allowed farmers markets to open in May "with strict alterations that focus on food distribution and prevent congregating," states a news release.
Throughout the day, Houlihan counted more than 300 customers in attendance.
"Our customers were great," she said. "They followed the protocols really well. It felt like a really safe environment."
A greeter handed out masks to those without facial coverings and pointed them to a hand-washing station. Multiple signs advised customers to keep their distance, follow the flow of traffic in a single direction and not to eat on site.
The market had about 22 vendors show up, said Houlihan, who estimated that the number is usually closer to 50.
"Part of the shrinkage is due to the fact that we need to have a lot of spacing between booths," she said. "That's mandated by the state."
Some vendors were not prepared to sell yet and others were doing well with their own farmstands, she said.
Houlihan believes a new taco vendor did well Saturday.
"It's always nice for customers to see a new vendor," she said.
Produce also seems to be a popular item. Houlihan said it looks like more people are looking to buy locally sourced food these days.
"It's great for us," she said. "We're just really grateful to be open and glad our customers are finding us and they're willing to accommodate given the requirements."
The plan is to be open every Saturday until October with protocols changing in accordance to guidance from the state. From 10 to 11 a.m., the market will be open for customers who have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. It is open to everyone from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Customers can place orders at brattleborofarmersmarket.com and pick them up in the parking area on Guilford Street.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org and at @CMaysBR on Twitter.