Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Seeley Lake Market success amidst COVID - Final Market Sunday

 

September 3, 2020

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

The Seeley Lake Market has been held on the lawn of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation since the end of June. Even though several restrictions were in place to comply with the Missoula County Health Department regulations, vendors and patrons alike were grateful for the opportunity to have the Market. The final Market of the season is this Sunday, Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

SEELEY LAKE – Entering through a single entrance, Seeley Lake Market attendees put on their masks and stopped to visit with Amaya Harman. Harman patiently explained the contact tracing form and answered any questions. Then visitors were able to visit with their favorite vendors each week following the one-way isle through the Market.

While Market Manager Rachelle Harman and Seeley Lake Community Foundation Past President Carla Schade said it was a different Market this year due to COVID restrictions, they were extremely grateful for all the vendors and customers that supported the Market each week. They welcome everyone to the final Market of the season this Sunday, Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the lawn of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation on Highway 83.

The Market had a slow start this year with just Johnson's Homegrown coming up the first few weeks of June. However by the end of June and through the rest of the summer Schade said they averaged 18 vendors per week. Because of the contact tracing forms, for the first time in 12 years, the Market could track attendance. Schade said they estimated 180-200 groups participated in the Market each week.

"Both Rachelle are I are elated we could make this happen this summer," said Schade. "Rachelle spent many extended hours of planning and conversations with Missoula County Health to provide the protocols that enabled the Market to take place."

Along with all the COVID requirements for participants, food vendors, live music and gathering spaces that added to the community atmosphere of the Market were absent due to the regulations. Schade said there were also regular vendors from years past that chose not to attend this year but "it was delightful to introduce several new artists and crafters." Schade added there were two youth vendors that were branching out as new entrepreneurs which was inspiring.

Schade highlighted a few other positive outcomes of the new format. Because customers were restricted to one entry and a designated exit, vendors parked their vehicles right behind their booths to create a "fence" around the market edge. The vendors appreciated this since in the past, they unloaded and moved their vehicles to the Senior Center parking lot to accommodate more parking for customers. Many vendors said they appreciated the opportunity to sell their wares since so many markets were closed due to the pandemic.

"It was marvelous to see several vendors that came often from as far away as Billings, Helena and the Bitterroot because they relish the camaraderie of this market," said Schade. "It has been a triumph to accomplish this under the circumstances of these times."

Schade said they never had to use the contact tracing forms where attendees wrote down the number of the booths they stopped at and provided their phone number.

"The Sunday Market has been a significant event for our community for 12 years.  The SLCF looks at the market as a chance to use our venue to provide a space where both residents and visitors can enjoy our community as well as the wares of unique Montana vendors," said Schade. "We definitely plan to continue to support the community through the market.  Hopefully, next year, we can return to making the market also a setting for mingling and visiting."

 

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