Shaletta Baldwin wasn’t sure what to expect this year for the Baker City Farmers Market, but she ended the season, on Oct. 14, pleasantly surprised.

“The market season went surprisingly well,” she said. “It definitely started a little shaky with COVID-19.”

Baldwin is the market manager for both the Baker City Farmers Market, and the La Grande Farmers Market.

In Baker City, she saw smaller crowds at first, but the number of customers picked up through the summer.

“A lot of vendors said their sales rivaled other years, which is really good news,” she said. “Some of our vendors rely on this solely.”

She tracks the crowd count at each market, and noticed the slow increase of customers bringing children, and shopping a little longer.

COVID-19 wasn’t the only challenge this year. A late freeze killed the crop for a regular fruit vendor from the Tri-Cities area, and low air quality prompted her to adjust the hours of some markets.

Vendor counts were down, too. In Baker City, she had three commit for the entire season, plus another three who were there about 80% of the time.

“Some showed up at the end, some came at the beginning but stopped midway through,” she said.

In La Grande, the vendor numbers dropped by half.

“Almost all of them cited COVID,” Baldwin said.

Being the manager for both markets, she was able to bring Union County vendors to Baker City, and encourage Baker vendors to sell in La Grande.

This winter, she will work on promoting the markets and recruiting vendors.

“We’re really looking forward to next year,” she said.

And she’s glad that, despite all the challenges this year, that the markets still happened and people came to shop.

“I’m so glad it still happened,” she said. “We want to thank our customers for supporting us.”

Looking ahead to 2021

Market information will be available on the website, www.bakercityfarmersmarket.com, and the Facebook page.

Interested vendors are encouraged to email Baldwin at bakercityfarmersmarketor@gmail.com or call 541-519-4093.

She said there are also a few open positions on the Baker City Farmers Market board — contact her for more information.

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