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Farmers market draws crowds, despite COVID-19 concerns

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New and returning customers gathered around the mass of colorful tents in the Country Cookin’ Café parking lot on Thursday for a sunny evening of chatting with vendors and buying items at the Beatrice Farmers Market.

The market’s season started in late May, and while some vendors decided not to participate this year due to COVID-19 concerns, Main Street Beatrice Director Michael Sothan said the number of vendors participating has been trending above average compared to previous years.

“Customer count-wise seems to be very strong this year, as well, and with more vendors, there’s always more variety,” Sothan said.

Items at the last market included vegetables, honey, baked goods, jewelry, art and other craft items. Sothan said he expects sweet corn will be sold soon, as well.

One of the new vendors this year is Bella Galindo with her business Coton and Company, which sells handmade clay and resin earrings. Galindo described her first market experience as “a little slow.”

“People were kind of getting used to my products,” Galindo explained. “They didn’t really know me. But the more markets I came to, the more people came over and bought stuff.”

Since she’s new to the market and also sells her items online, Galindo said COVID-19 has not really impacted her revenue.

But for other vendors like Trinidad Jenson, who sells baked good and crafts through her business Homemade Kolache, Jam/Jellies by Trini, the cancelation of craft shows she participated in as well as the Wilber Czech Festival has impacted her sales. This is also Jenson’s first time at the Beatrice Market, and she sells items online, as well.

“Kind of like a business and a hobby, because I do it for fun,” Jenson said.

Lauri Baumann from Sicily Creek Jellies has been participating at the Beatrice Farmer’s Market for 13 years, and also participates in markets in Wymore and Fairbury. She said this season may be better than any before.

“I don’t know if the numbers are so much better, but I think people come to buy rather than just look,” Baumann said.

The market is currently following recommendations from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in regards to COVID-19, including vendors changing gloves often, having vendors handle all the items until it’s been purchased, not allowing people to sample items, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“Just take some of the necessary precautions to make sure the market can stay open throughout the year,” Sothan explained.

The market is scheduled for every Thursday from 4-6:30 p.m., with the last market scheduled for Oct. 8.


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