BOONE — The Watauga County Farmers’ Market at Horn in the West Drive in Boone is typically a sign for locals that the harsh High Country winter has passed, but in this year’s opening on Saturday, May 2, visitors will see stark differences from years past.
According to the market’s manager, Mary Goodnight, there will not be crafts or art vendors, live music, the Kids Corner, sampling of goods, chef demonstrations or food trucks at the May 2 opening.
“We are encouraging customers to treat a visit to the market as an essential errand rather than an event. We highly recommend that customers wear masks. It will help tremendously if households send only one member or as few as possible. There will be the usual wide variety of local, quality and sustainable food and farm items available,” Goodnight said.
The market has also released a COVID-19 Response Plan that is based on “recommendations, policies and executive orders from N.C., the town of Boone, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and Appalachian District Health Department.”
The plan mentions additional details that customers and vendors should be aware of, including that “the market is not an event but an essential service,” meaning that it should be treated the same as a grocery store, which is why there are a number of restrictions.
Additionally, there will be designated paths for attendees to follow, and staff will be nearby to direct anyone who may have questions. There will be two hand-washing stations set up at the market. Hand sanitizer will be available at various stations throughout the market, according to the COVID-19 Response Plan.
The current restrictions will remain in place until restrictions are lifted on state and local levels. Market officials are updating the COVID-19 Response Plan and restrictions as new information becomes available, according to Goodnight.
During a “normal” opening day, the Watauga County Farmers Market would see 1,500-plus customers, and each market throughout the summer would see about the same number of customers each week, according to Goodnight.
While organizers are not expecting the regular amount of traffic on May 2 due to the restrictions that have been put in place, Goodnight said that “vendors and the market need community support during this time.“
“We’re excited to open the year,” said Goodnight.
The Watauga County Farmers’ Market will be open from 8 a.m. until noon at 591 Horn in the West Drive in Boone, according to its website at www.wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org.
Visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WataugaCountyFarmersMarket for more information.