SARATOGA SPRINGS & WILTON — The Saratoga Farmers Market will officially move outside this weekend, but in a new location and with social-distancing regulations.
The market, normally held in downtown Saratoga Springs, will instead be held in the Wilton Mall parking lot this outdoor season.
The winter market was held inside Wilton Mall for this first time this past winter.
The outdoor market will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the mall parking lot near the Bow Tie Cinemas and the former Bon-Ton space.
The market also will be held on Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Coronavirus will change how the market will look this summer, according to the market’s administrator, Emily Meagher. In addition to the social-distancing guidelines, there will be no live music.
”Not having our music right now, which is a big part of the market, and not having our activities, that’s very sad for us,” Meagher said. “But right now we’re just focusing on the message that we’re a safe, local place to get your groceries; we’re focusing more on why we’re deemed an essential business in New York state.”
Market officials say they will require guests wear face masks, per state guidelines, and maintain social distance.
In addition to the lack of live musicians, the outdoor market won’t include the usual craft vendors and artists.
The only non-food items that can be sold are soap and hand sanitizer.
Vendors will set up tents 10 feet apart in front of the former Bon-Ton, hawking everything from hummus to hard liquor.
Jeff and Megan Killenberger will be bringing their many varieties of mushrooms to the Wednesday markets. They’re only in their third year running 518 Farms out of their Hoosick Falls home but are already seeing a big increase in demand.
“Given the current markets we’re in right now, we’ve actually had a higher turnout because we’re adhering to all of Governor Cuomo’s guidelines and safety restrictions,” said Killenberger. “People are really preferring more fresh, local produce in a safe environment outside, versus the box stores where there’s not a lot of ventilation and people pack in.”
But some farmers are feeling the rough side of the crisis. Meagher said several vendors didn’t come out to Saratoga winter markets because of staffing issues, or just out of caution about public spaces.
Many local farms across the country have ramped up online ordering, delivery and pickup business for their vegetables and produce.
Killenberger’s customers can order Reishi, Lion’s Mane and many other gourmet and medicinal mushrooms direct from his site.
The Saratoga Farmers Market Association is trying to set up a coordinated ordering system with drive-thru pickup for all their vendors, so customers can shop online from one site rather than going to individual farms’ sites.
High Rock Park in downtown Saratoga Springs had been the farmers market’s home for decades, but the Saratoga City Center’s $16 million parking garage construction cut into some of the market’s usual parking spots, Meagher said.
They decided to hold their summer markets at Wilton Mall instead.
“The social distancing setup has been working for us so far; we wouldn’t be able to have as much space at High Rock with how far vendors are spaced apart,” said Meagher.
Meagher will be on-site at the markets with other staff to help ensure everyone maintains a safe social distance, but she’s had good experiences with customers so far, she said. “It’s been great to see how supportive customers have been, and especially just how appreciative they’ve been of farmers and vendors. Even if the market isn’t as fun as it could be, that support is certainly there,” said Meagher.