Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Setting up a market

If you arrive after the opening bell at a farmers market, you might get the impression that it is like a supermarket, with everything set out for everyone to look at and enjoy.

But consider that vendors arrive at the market at least 1 hour early each week to set up. That doesn't count the hours they spent even earlier in the day gathering together their goods, loading them into their car or truck, and then driving to the market. Then think about the vendors at the end of the day, repacking goods that didn't sell and taking them home again.

And besides all that, they must stand or sit at their booth for the duration of the market, chatting with customers or watching noncustomers walk by.

It's a whole lot of work being a market vendor.

Today I arrived an hour early to watch the Billings Wednesday market get going. There is an average of 10 vendors each week. Today I saw: 3 Hutterite colonies selling vegetables, bread, and canned items; 2 Asian hot-food vendors; kettle corn; take-and-bake pie (free samples -- yum!); and assorted produce, including cherries, peppers, and cucumbers.

The evening market begins with cars being towed to clear the market area.

Then the vendors move in. It's well-orchestrated choreography, with downtown city traffic amazingly patient.

Then the booths and awnings go up.

Gradually, customers appear, and the market is underway.

Yellowstone Valley Wednesday Farmers Market
Broadway, under the Skypoint
August 4th - 25th
Wednesday, 4 pm - 8 pm
Note: Vendors start selling as soon as set up; hot food ready about 4:30 pm.

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