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For the first time since the world was bombarded with words like pandemic, coronavirus and COVID-19, it felt like a normal day.

The crowd was considerably smaller, with 23 booths spaced 10 feet apart going up Fourth Avenue. But opening day at the 2020 Ellensburg Farmers Market was a breath of fresh air. The sun was shining, the traffic on Main Street was somewhat steady and the foot traffic up and down Fourth Avenue gave folks a chance to get out, do a little shopping and enjoy the Memorial Weekend.

“They were lining up at 8:30 this morning,” market manager Colin Lamb said, smiling under his mask to be sure. “It's just a bunch of chalked lines and cones. I made a bunch of signs that I didn't even put out. I'd say 90 percent of the crowd is following the directions.”

The directional pattern was simple, up one side and back down the other, some 10 booths between Pearl and Pine streets and another 13 on the east side going up.

The crowd was smaller and the booths were limited, but it was opening day at the Ellensburg Farmers Market, and that was good enough for a community that has been adhering to the Stay Home, Stay Safe restrictions since March.

Denise Horton, Steffon Bradley and Farmers Market board president Carin Thomas met shoppers as they entered on the Pearl Street end, greeting them with a smile, that is if you could see under the protective masks they were wearing. There were a few new guidelines this year in order to stay with the social distancing regulations, but it was more of a point in the right direction to people more than happy to adhere.

“We're here to support local merchants and do some shopping,” said Matt Brown of Ellensburg, who had his family with. His 3-year-old was working on an apple he had to hold with both hands. “We come down here every week during the summer.”

Watching his boy gnaw on the apple with such enjoyment was worth the price of admission as he and his wife Laina watched the juice run down his cheeks.

“It's a smaller crowd than normal,” Laina said. “I'm sure it will pick up as the summer goes on, but it's nice to get out and do a little shopping.”

Isaac Gambito serenaded on his guitar, sitting next to Lutong Pinoy Catering as they made swing on the round trip on Pine Street heading back the other directions. There were vendors like Parke Creek Farms with sheep milk soap, eggs and wool. Crawford Farms had fresh blueberries for sale. Kittitas Valley Greenhouse had fresh tomatoes ready and waiting. The Ellensburg Canyon Winery had another use for grapes with a fine selection of local wines. Dagdagan Farm and Produce had a selection of farm fresh produce and of course Loveland Cookies, which has been a mainstay at the market for the past 10 years.

There were more of course. Instead of thousands making their way through, it was hundreds. But it was still opening day at the Ellensburg Farmers Market on a sunny day in the Kittitas Valley.

“I was a little nervous because I didn't know how many cookies to make,” Cyndi Loveland said through her protective mask. “I normally make 800 to 1,000, but this year I started with 500. But I'm happy to be here and happy to see people out and about.”

Out and about is nice to hear as Kittitas County nears the end of Phase 1 of the governor's plan to reopen Washington state. Hopefully the county will see more and more restrictions lifted in the months to come.

But the first major gathering since the Stay Home, Stay Safe order went into effect went off without incident.


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