Before COVID, the Thursday farmers' market in Downtown San Luis Obispo used to be much more than just a place to buy groceries. It was also a street fair that pulled in large crowds. Now, after more than a year of closure, the market will reopen Thursday, May 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Whitney Chaney, program director for Downtown SLO, said she used the last year to rethink what the market should be.
“Why we’re able to operate now is because we’ve gone through about 20-plus different iterations of this plan,” Chaney said. “And we’ve gone through many conversations with County Health, many conversations with the city and we’ve found a way to safely reopen in a very limited format.”
Chaney said the market is going to feature only certified farmers selling items such as produce and bread, and some craft sellers with soap and candles.
But there won’t be entertainers or restaurant booths selling meals — and you can’t eat or drink when you’re there.
The market will also look a little smaller. It will only operate on Higuera Street between Osos and Chorro Streets.
“It will not be the market that we remembered it as, but it will be a good event that we planned well,” Chaney said. “It will meet the needs of people needing fresh produce.”
Chaney said there is no timeline for bringing back more vendors, but when it is possible, Downtown SLO will prioritize safety.
In the meantime, she encouraged people who go to the farmers' market to also visit local restaurants.
People attending the Thursday market will be asked to keep moving as they shop, to help with social distancing.
San Luis Obispo County has seven certified farmers’ markets, without entertainment, that have continued to operate through the pandemic because they are considered essential businesses.
Masking is required at all farmers markets.