The Denton Community Market won’t have live music or kids’ activities on its opening day Saturday, but market-goers can still enjoy locally-sourced food from about 20 vendors — all while staying six feet apart.
The community market typically runs from April to November each year, but the board announced in mid-March that opening day would be delayed until further notice. A virtual community market was then set up, promoting vendors on social media who were fulfilling orders.
Opening day was announced for May 23 with a note for visitors to follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
“It’s a food and farm market [only] for the opening day,” said Vicki Oppenheim, the board of directors president for the market. “We came up with a plan that Denton County [officials] approved for us to open under the COVID environment … We hope to expand over the next coming weeks with additional vendors as we test out the COVID protocols.”
Rather than opening with the usual 80 to 100 vendors, Oppenheim said the market would have about 20 food-only vendors — including dog food for visitors’ furry friends.
“We’re requiring vendors to wear [face masks] and use gloves and have hand sanitizer available, minimizing any direct interaction with customers in terms of direct hand-to-hand contact,” Oppenheim said.
While vendors are required to wear face masks, it’s strongly encouraged for visitors. Oppenheim said the market will be selling its own face masks.
The community market spans across the lawn in front of the Bayless Selby House Museum, located at 317 W. Mulberry St, with vendors’ tents lined up right next to each other. Starting Saturday, those vendor tents will be spread farther apart, and visitors will be directed to a designated entrance.
Visitors also are being discouraged from attending if they feel sick or if they’re at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Oppenheim said they’ll have signs placed throughout the market reminding people to follow social distancing guidelines and added they’re discouraging people from lingering. Dogs also won’t be allowed, with the exception of service dogs.
“We just don’t want to promote a lot of congregating of people,” Oppenheim said.
The pandemic also has brought economic hardship to the market. Oppenheim said they’ve laid off staff.
“We are right now operating with the board volunteers,” Oppenheim said. “We anticipate being able to rehire staff at some point but we can’t say when yet … It’s a major undertaking to put on this market … We’re doing what we can do to keep going.”
The National Weather Service has predicted scattered storms and showers will develop Thursday in North Texas with a 60% chance of rain in Denton County and possible rain this weekend.
“We’ll have to monitor it,” Oppenheim said. “If it’s just light rain, we’ll be open. Worse comes to worst, we’ll be in the parking lot across Mulberry Street, but we hope it won’t happen.”