Christmas mart concludes a challenging year
TODAY'S Christmas farmers’ market in Barnard Castle (Saturday, December 5) marks the end of a challenging 12 months for the organisation.
Officials have had to cope with the theft of stalls and trailers, the cancellation of two markets due to the Covid-19 crisis, coping with a host of new post-lockdown regulations, welcoming new traders and bidding farewell to others.
The year got off to the worst possible start as outdoor stalls had to be replaced following the theft.
Market manager Carol Parker said: “The trailers were recovered with the help of Crook police, but we suspect the stalls had been turned into scrap metal.
“So we had to start again and purchase stalls and tarpaulins to continue outdoors.”
Trading began as normal. After the January hiatus, the first two monthly markets held indoors at The Witham. What followed was anything but normal.
“When national lockdown was announced we had to cancel markets in April and May,” said Ms Parker.
“Some of our traders were able to continue by fulfilling orders online or with local delivery. Others just had to sit it out along with the rest of the nation.
“Behind the scenes we put a lot of thought into how we could re-open safely, creating a full risk assessment and enlisting stewards to help with ‘crowd control’, especially with the new found notoriety the town was enjoying.”
During this period, Barnard Castle Farmers’ Market received a grant from the Prince’s Trust Countryside Fund to revamp its website to keep members and shoppers updated.
Further funding was received from the National Lottery to help cover additional costs of restarting the market and the town council also donated hand sanitiser and face masks.
“We were one of the first markets to re-open on June 6 and we needed to provide additional safety equipment such as banners, hand sanitiser, tape, stall dividers,” said Ms Parker.
“Our efforts in keeping the market open have been really well received by locals, with markets from June to November being well attended, despite some inclement weather along the way.”
She added: “We want to thank everyone who has come along to enjoy an outdoor shopping experience for great local produce.
“Some of our stall holders were delayed in returning to trade due to self-isolation, but by October we were back to full strength.”
A number of new traders, most of which are businesses at the start of their journey, include Armitage Sparkling wines, Breaking Bread Durham, Fika Coffee roasters, and Indian Spice Northallerton. However, some long standing regulars have left due to retirement, health or family reasons, including Westholme Farm Meats, Birdoswald Cheese, Sue’s Bread and Just William Hedgerow products.
“William Ramsbottom has been such a supporter of Barney Farmers' market for so many years, we owe him a huge thanks for all the extra tasks he undertook on top of his own stall,” said Ms Parker.
A full complement of traders is expected at the Christmas farmers’ market, which will run from 9am to 2.30pm on Saturday.
“This will be our last market in Barnard Castle until February 2021,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing everyone and we send our thanks and best wishes to all customers past and present.”