Over a number of years now, one of the most anticipated weekly events has been the Marco Island Farmer’s Market. A great deal of planning and work goes into the preparation for that weekly event and this year is no exception. After the COVID-19 event impacted the island last March, the Marco City Staff has scrambled to ensure that the appropriate guidelines and protections were put into place to guarantee the public and vendors will be protected.
Samantha Malloy, the city’s Parks Recreation and Cultural Events Manager, reviewed the efforts being set forward to ensure similar guidelines would be followed for the 2020-2021 schedule for the popular annual event. She briefed the councilors of the city’s plans for the upcoming season at the September 9th council meeting.
One new challenge she and her staff would have to deal with revolves around the anticipated beginning of construction for the capital improvement project to be done this next year at Veterans Community Park. That multi-million-dollar project will entail substantial construction that will be done within the park itself as improvements are done.
That work will require the initial launch of the popular event to begin on Wednesday, November 17, for opening day at its normal location the Veterans Community Park as usual. The spaces will be limited to 40 to 50 vendors. This will allow for appropriate spacing for not only vendors, but for attendees.
Although prepared foods will be available, they will not be provided for consumption at the Market. Those foods will be for “Take-Out Only.” Phone numbers will be available for vendors providing that service and will be published on the city’s website.
Once construction begins at the Veterans Community Park, the weekly market will be shifted over to Mackle Park. The same vendors will simply move their operations each week to Mackle Park. To protect the integrity of the athletic fields at Mackle, no vendor booths will be installed on those fields. They will be laid out on the perimeter of the fields and appropriately spaced as they were at Veterans Community Park.
Plenty of advanced notice will be given to all involved as to when that change of venue will be made to the public. Parking for the event will be located within Mackle Park and in the swales surrounding the park itself.
Hand Sanitizer Stations will be provided throughout the marketplace, whether it be at Veterans Community Park or within Mackle Park. Patrons will be encouraged to allow vendors to handle vegetables and other food offerings and there will be no sampling allowed.
Malloy explained that vendors will be taking appropriate health and sanitary precautions. The public is also encouraged to take similar precautions such as social distancing, the utilization of the hand sanitizer stations as provided, and the use of masks should appropriate distancing not be practical.
Prepared foods will also continue to be available at Mackle Park, but again, only for “Take-Out-Only,” as no seating or tents will be provided.
The market will begin on Wednesday, November 18, and run until Wednesday, April 14th, and open at 7:30 AM and run until 1 PM.