The Lebanon Farmers’ Market launched its season May 21 at its downtown location
Hand washing stations were in place at both entrances and the familiar blue tape was stuck to the asphalt to help customers keep a proper distance from others. All of the vendors and some of the customers wore face masks, but the mood was festive on the blustery spring afternoon.
“A lot of people are looking forward to getting back to regular, as regular as we can be with the social distancing aspect of everything,” said Chris Bayne, the manager of the Sweet Home and Lebanon farmers’ markets. “All of us are really amped up to get started again and get things going again. It’s a little different at first, but once we get a few markets under our belt I’m sure everybody will get used to a new routine.”
Bayne said the distance between booths was increased to 10 feet. This resulted in a fewer available spaces at this year’s market in Lebanon. With only 15 spots available, Bayne said the decision was made to emphasize produce and preference was given to the vendors who have been at the market the longest.
“We’re trying to strictly stick with produce. No crafts or anything of that nature,” Bayne said, adding that the music and community booths are not up at this time.
Among the returning vendors are Pete and Jan Boucot, who operate Sunflower Hill Farm. They did steady business on opening day selling jam, jelly and honey.
“We’ve been here since the very first market,” said Pete Boucot, adding that the farmers’ market is a key part of their business. “It is very important. It gets the message out that there are a lot of farmers in the area.”
Customers had mixed feelings about the relaxed guidelines in place under the first phase of the state’s reopening plan.
Laurie Schmidt, a Lebanon resident and regular market shopper, said she was very comfortable coming out for opening day.
“I’ve never been nervous about this whole thing,” Schmidt said.
Lebanon resident Tom Hansen visited the market with his mother, Pat Kurtz.
“I’m ambivalent. I think it’s a little soon,” Hansen said of the state’s reopening. “Here in Oregon, it might be OK because we fortunately got shut down early enough that it wasn’t as bad as it could be, but still, I’m a little ambivalent about it.”
Kurtz doesn’t think it is too early to begin reopening, but she is concerned some people might not act responsibly and a return to more strict rules may be required.
“I think we’re going to do it. I think it’s fine,” Kurtz said. “As long as we behave ourselves, we’ll be able to do this. If we all use our heads and use good sense we’ll get through this a lot better.”
The Lebanon Farmers’ Market is open from 2 to 6 p.m. each Thursday at the corner of Main Street and Grant Street. The Sweet Home Farmers’ Market will begin June 2. It is open from 2 to 6 p.m. each Tuesday at 12th Avenue and Kalmia Street.
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