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A spirit that is not afraid

Vendors sell local goods at Auburn City Market

Customers buy produce at the Farmers Market at the Agricultural Heritage Park on on Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Auburn, Ala.
Customers buy produce at the Farmers Market at the Agricultural Heritage Park on on Thursday, July 11, 2019 in Auburn, Ala.

The sounds of children playing and dogs barking and the smell of freshly baked goods and artisanal candles — these sensations signify another morning at the Auburn City Market.

The City Market is Auburn’s monthly farmers market. The market is held on a Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Town Creek Park.  

According to Sarah Cook, Auburn’s aquatics and special events coordinator, the first market of 2020 was able to be held in April as a curbside market because farmer’s markets are considered an essential service. The City Market opened back up for in-person shopping the last Saturday of May. Throughout the summer, the market was held on a weekly basis, but in September transitioned to only having the market monthly.

Cook said the market can have anywhere from 15 to 19 vendors present. The vendors are local to Lee County and surrounding counties. The products sold at the City Market range from locally raised meats to canned goods and vegetables. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Market looks different for vendors than it has in previous years. Cook said the market had to limit the number of vendors attending in order to keep vendors approximately 10 feet apart from each other. Vendors are required to wear masks at all times, and food samples and cooking demonstrations are no longer allowed. Vendors must also prepackage all products for sale and wear gloves when handling produce. 

“The market has done a really good job taking precautions and following the guidelines set in place by the state and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for how we should operate a market,” said Beth Hornsby, Hornsby Farms vendor. “Our farmers market authority for the state, as well as our City market coordinators, have done a phenomenal job from the start to make sure that not only the vendors but the customers feel comfortable.”

Customers are asked to wear masks when in close proximity to others and must remain six feet apart while waiting in line. Animals are also no longer allowed in close proximity to vendors. 

“Everyone has done a great job,” Cook said. “Everyone has come in a mask. If someone does not have a mask, we offer them a mask. We haven’t had any issues so far.”

Despite the guidelines, Cook said that the farmer’s market attendance has remained consistent. There was a slight increase in attendance to fall markets because students returned to Auburn University in August. Cook also said that the market likely sustained so many customers through the COVID-19 pandemic because people are more comfortable being in social settings outdoors.

“People look at it like a grocery store, but outdoors,” Cook said. “A lot of people feel safer coming to the market because it is outdoors.”

Heather and Nat Smith, regulars at the City Market, said that they attended the farmers market a few times in 2019, but do more commonly now because it is one of the few social events that has endured the pandemic. Smith said that his favorite part of attending the farmer’s market is the opportunity to support small, local businesses. 

The last City Market of 2020 will be held on Oct. 24 at Town Creek Park from 8 a.m. to noon.

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