Look carefully and Fred Arbour may just be visible at right, overseeing the entrance to the Pelham Farmers Market. DON RICKERS

Considering there’s a pandemic on, organizers pleased by season

Fred Arbour is an imposing figure in his high-visibility yellow jacket and protective face mask at the Pelham Farmers Market entrance, brandishing a bottle of hand sanitizer. He used to run a barbeque booth at the market, but in recent years has been the operation’s overseer and manager. Last Thursday, he greeted customers as light rain fell from a grey sky, controlling the numbers who entered and exited the cordoned-off Pelham Town Square in accordance with social distancing directives.

The market, in its 17th season, will conclude this Thursday, October 8. Numbers were down this year, given that popular events that coincided with the market—the Thursday Night Concert Series at Peace Park, and the Pelham Supper Market — were both cancelled due to the pandemic. But those in attendance had not lost their optimism.

Arbour was one such person in sanguine spirits.

“Actually, it’s gone fairly well. We’ve been quite happy with the turnout. It tailed off a bit near the end of the season, but that’s normal,” he said. “We were averaging around 350 people a night this year, which is about half what we had in past years. We also had only about a dozen vendors, half the normal number, due to physical-distancing protocols.”

We’ve had a great turnout given that we’re still in the grip of the pandemic

The mood amongst the vendors was buoyant, and Arbour said he had received no complaints.

“People seem to be happy,” he said. “Hopefully the big crowds will be back next year with a full market of vendors, and the concerts and supper market. But at this stage, who really knows how long this virus will go on?”

Leah Letford, Special Events and Festivals Programmer in the Culture, Recreation, and Wellness department for the Town of Pelham, was in attendance throughout the market season.

“We’ve had a great turnout given that we’re still in the grip of the pandemic,” Letford said.

“People are coming out for the vendors, which is fantastic. It’s important that we support our local farmers.”