Ellensburg Farmers market

The Ellensburg Farmers Market will under Saturday under regulations to come into compliance with CO{VID-19 restrictions.

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Opening day at the Ellensburg Farmers Market on Saturday will be the city’s first public gathering since Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide restrictions to help curb the spread of the COVID-19.

It cannot or will not be the same social gathering that has served the Kittitas Valley for years, but the market in downtown Ellensburg will open Saturday morning under social distancing regulations and common-sense guidelines, market manager Colin Lamb said, to keep everyone safe.

“I think the people who come to the farmers market are the type of folks that will follow the guidelines to social distancing, so I’m not to concerned,” Lamb said. “We’re stressing right now to leave the family at home and have one person come to the market with a list and be ready to go.

“There will be no public seating. We’ll have extra hand washing stations. What we’re hoping for is that people will come in, shop and leave.”

They are expecting 25 vendors for opening day and booths going up and down Fourth Street will be 10 feet apart allowing for minimal lines. Lamb said customers can enter the market from any direction, but the biggest thing will be staying to the right as they would at a lunch buffet.

Cones will be set up directing foot traffic up one side of the street and back down on the other side. If there’s a line or gathering in front of your favorite vendor, he said, circle around and come back, or catch it the following week on your first stop.

“We’re hoping people will come in and spend around 20 minutes, get what they need and leave,” Lamb said.

It’s a far cry from the days of coming downtown, munching a few grapes, maybe having lunch with the family. But in the midst of one of the most horrific pandemics in American history, it is that sense of normalcy Americans have been calling for in reopening.

“There is no backup plan. We have to make this work. We will have monitors stationed around the market to help people get used to the new guidelines,” Lamb said. “I think people want this to work, so we expect it to run smoothly.”

As always, there will be a police presence with Ellensburg Police officers on foot as well as on the bicycles. Officer Kevin Willette said it’s not so much to enforce social distancing guidelines, but business as usual with any large gathering in town.

“We want the community and people at the market to know we’re readily available if anybody needs anything,” Willette said. “We’re not going to be there writing tickets or arresting people for going the wrong way. We’ll just show a presence at the market and be available all day.”

Some of the regulations to keep in mind include:

  • Come prepared with a shopping list and leave the market as soon as you are finished.
  • The market will have staff designated to monitor the market entrance and ensure customers comply.
  • No product sampling will be allowed.
  • Respect that the first hour of the market is set-aside for shoppers who are in “high-risk” categories.
  • Limit customer contact with products. Post signs reminding customers not to touch anything they aren’t buying.
 

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