The popular farmers’ market at Western Fair will be expanding to Sunday openings.
The change from Saturday only will start Oct. 6, marking the first anniversary since Western Fair took over the operation from Dave Cook, who had rented the confederation building from the Western Fair to run the market privately.
“It’s an amazing asset and we want to grow our base and tie into urban agriculture,” said Heather Blackwell, the director of urban and rural affairs at the Western Fair Association.
The Sunday hours will be shorter than Saturday’s, from 10 a.m to 3 p.m instead of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Blackwell said all vendors will be required to open both days.
Under Cook’s direction, the number of shoppers and vendors grew and a number of market vendors opened shops in the neighbourhood near the fairgrounds.
Blackwell said the WFA also will spend up to $400,000 on upgrades, including the basement washrooms and more refrigerated storage. There also are plans for upgrades to doors, windows and the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system during the next two years.
The Confederation Building was built in 1927 and served as the main building for the annual Western Fair for decades, housing agricultural, horticulture and arts displays. Blackwell said the improvements largely will be functional and not affect the character of the building
“What we are doing now really ties in to the historical aspect of the building. It’s really a beautiful vintage building with an atmosphere and we do not want to mess with that,” said Blackwell.
Jen Pastorius, manager of the Old East Village Business Improvement Area, said the expanded schedule will be a big boost for the neighbourhood.
“The market is an important neighbourhood landmark, supported since its inception by those that live and work in the area, providing a unique shopping experience, a community meeting place and successful business that draws visitors from near and far to Old East Village,” she said.
The farmers’ market will operate under the Western Fair’s agricultural unit with Dan Ross as manager. Courtney Bertens has been hired as the assistant manager.