Fenton — Last week, visitors to downtown did something they may previously never foresaw — they attended a farmers market during a pandemic.

 On Thursday, June 11, Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation (SLPR) with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) held the first Farmers Market of the season. Half the attendees wore masks, and many vendors erected Plexiglas barriers for safety.

 Normally, SLPR schedules 40 vendors. This event was notably sparse with 22 booths. There were no booths in the parking lot beside the community center and there was plenty of space on the community center lawn.

 Micheal Hart, assistant city manager and DDA executive director, said it was decided approximately four weeks ago that the market could be held, following guidance published by the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA.)

 “People are still adjusting to the change. Vendors are still spread out and social distancing,” he said. While lively and busy, several hundred visited downtown compared to several thousand in non-pandemic times. There was no live concert usually packing the lawn at City Hall.

 Karla Christenson of Grand Blanc Township purchased produce like zucchini squash, honey, asparagus and strawberries from Wolverton Produce. She wore a mask and felt relaxed about the event.

 Kristen Archambeau of SLPR said approximately 400 visitors attended the market specifically, which is actually on par with a normal market day. “Market shoppers were happy to be able to shop in the open air and were really thankful that the market was still able to take place this year,” she said.

 Hart said that because these markets provide staple food items, they’re essential. “This was a win for the city and for the community,” he said.

 The next market is Thursday, June 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. The final market is Sept. 10.

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