By Sayde Walker
Tillamook Farmers Market Manager
The 2020 Tillamook Farmers Market was one for the books. Granted, not a book I ever want to read again, but still one for the books.
When the Chamber took over the Market three years ago, we wanted to bring back some of that old-fashioned farmers market fun that had been missing for so many years. We brought in upscale, talented musicians. We did an enormous amount of vendor recruiting. We added kids’ games and activities to encourage families to come down and spend the afternoon with us.
And people responded. Our foot traffic increased exponentially, we had new vendors wanting in, sales were up, and better yet morale was up.
Then COVID hit. All our grandiose plans for our third year managing the market were shot. Yet while farmers markets all around us were canceling their in-person events, we decided to strip the market to the bare bones and hold it anyway.
It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. The old adage “build it and they will come” kind of rang true. Every Saturday we set up, and every Saturday the shoppers came. Maybe not in the large crowds that we had grown accustomed to, but they still came. They bought plant starts for their gardens. They bought fresh produce to feed their families. They bought soap, and outdoor furniture (like, so much furniture) and honey and bonsai trees.
During a pandemic it becomes incredibly important to shop small first and they don’t come much smaller than vendors at a farmers market. Our community met the challenge and supported these farmers, producers, artists, beekeepers and crafters. To that, we say thank you.
I would be remiss without thanking my vendors as well, who had to endure not only new rules and regulations due to the pandemic but also windy, rainy weather for the majority of the season. They still showed up with a smile and kept me company every single Saturday with their warm, caring attitudes. Being a farmers market manager is not a thankless job. Hard work, yes, but I have the most amazing vendors who consistently let me know how much they appreciate and care about me and the feeling is mutual.
Again, thank you to everyone who came out amidst COVID and bad weather to support our vendors. Thank you for shopping small. We can’t wait to see everyone next year, and hopefully we can see more than everyone’s eyes this time!