By Cameron Rasmusson
With the spring weather (hopefully) here to stay, North Idaho’s produce growers are readying their harvests for the first day of the Sandpoint Farmers’ Market.
Saturday, May 4, marks the first day for the popular market’s 2019 season at Farmin Park. Market organizers are preparing to debut the downtown institution in style. Ben Olson and Cadie Archer of Harold’s IGA will perform music on the market’s famous stage, and the day will be sprinkled with other festive touches, including a Bollywood-style dance performance.
It promises to be a dynamic start to another great season, which should be more accessible than ever thanks to an expansion of the food stamps system. According to market manager Kelli Burt, this year marks the debut of the Double Up SNAP system, in which shoppers can stretch their EBT dollars by visiting the market. The market will match a certain amount money, which is no doubt welcome news for residents with tight monthly food budgets.
“We are excited to be able to continue to support the SNAP program where customers can use their EBT card to withdraw SNAP bucks at the market and purchase their fresh vegetables and bread,” said Burt.
While the market is all about offering quality, locally-sourced food at a reasonable price, there’s plenty of excitement interspersed throughout the year that makes it more than an outdoor grocery store. The most consistent source of entertainment is the musical performances, which take place every Wednesday and Saturday and showcase a diverse array of talented local musicians. Regular shoppers should keep their eye out for a variety of fun activities beyond the normal offerings.
“Our special events will continue to be community oriented and fun for all ages with prizes, games and entertainment beyond music,” Burt said.
Among the most popular of those events is the Kids’ Day, which takes place Aug. 17. The event sees kids setting up booths and selling their own home-made wares at the fountain during regular market hours. The Kids’ Day is packed with fun activities and also gives local youngsters a sense of running their own business.
“Last year we had a great turnout of crafters and even some young farmers, and we expect and even better turnout this year,” Burt said. “We’ll have activities for young people and the young at heart.”
Of course, the stars of the market are the vendors themselves, and this year features even more of them, particularly on Wednesdays. There will even be Sandpoint Farmers’ Market merchandise available for true fans. As always, the Saturday market runs from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and the Wednesday market runs from 3-5:30 p.m.
“We will have some great new farmers, crafters and hot food items to satisfy everyone’s shopping needs,” Burt said.
Not only is the market great for fans of locally-sourced food, it’s also a boon to downtown Sandpoint’s businesses and events. One new event debuting this year is the Sandpoint Art Market, which runs Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at MickDuff’s Beer Hall. Starting May 4, the market will feature face painting for kids and music by Kevin Dorin from 12-2 p.m. Taken all together, it adds up to another great summer season in downtown Sandpoint.
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