With a full season of operating during a pandemic already under its belt, the Turlock Certified Farmers Market was well-prepared for crowds of shoppers who made their way downtown Saturday for the annual event’s Opening Day.
The market’s 2020 opening was delayed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, giving the TCFM Board enough time to create safety protocols which would keep shoppers and vendors safe. This year, much of those same precautions are still in place — masked vendors, social distancing, hand sanitizer, no samples — while others have been relaxed, like the return of live entertainment.
Not only did the farmers market open on time this season, but TCFM has extended the event through the last weekend of October after it was suggested by countless community members. This season 40 vendors will set up shop along Main Street every Saturday, including food options like Oaxaca Tamales and Echa Pizza, healthy delicacies from Tealey Tea and Golden Comb Honey and even handmade gifts from booths like Soaps By Hailey and Johnson Brothers Woodshop Designs.
All of these vendors are in addition to the wide variety of fresh produce and other grocery items offered at the market, which is the main draw for many visitors. Anne Piccirillo of Athena’s Gift has been selling olive oil at TCFM since its inception, she said, and was happy to be back after a successful season in 2020, despite the circumstances.
“Last year the market wanted to stay viable, so we did everything we possibly could to make that happen. People were a little more wary then, but I think everybody’s kind of gotten used to the new normal,” she said.
The farmers market serves as a safe, open air space where locals can gather and catch up while doing their weekly shopping, Piccirillo added, and she gives credit to the community’s support when it comes to TCFM’s longevity.
“The community’s enthusiasm is what’s helped, I think, especially last year,” she said. “We have a lot of people behind us.”
While Opening Day last season still saw plenty of downtown shoppers, the market seemed even busier on Saturday. Annie Moen of Flourish Bread was nearly sold out just an hour into the market, she said, which is the only event where she regularly sells her products. This season marks her third summer as a TCFM vendor.
“The pandemic can’t stop this,” she said. “This market is so big and so supported by the community. People were so excited for this in the days leading up and just happy to support the vendors again.”
For Moen, the market serves as not only a place where she can sell her bread, but also as an experience which has allowed her to make new friends year after year.
“I’ve met so many other vendors over the years and it’s a really awesome feeling to be a part of that community,” she said. “I’ve also met customers and have gotten to know them during this time, so it’s really cool to see those people again week after week and have somewhere to come where I can connect with others.”
The Turlock Certified Farmers Market will run through Oct. 30 and is held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday on Main Street between Palm Street and Center Street.