Live performers have made their return to the Sunday farmers market at the Memorial Centre.
The Euro Cafe Duo and Barb MacDougall with Alex Barnes became the first pairs of performers at the Market in two years, with COVID restricting last summer to a virtual capacity with curb-side pickup.
Musicians too have been restricted to a virtual format for much of the past year, until being permitted to perform in stage two of Ontario’s reopening.
Ted Leyton of the Euro Cafe Duo says the virtual shows are nowhere near a substitute to the real thing.
“Virtual shows we’ve done three or four over the year but you know when you’re playing to a screen it’s a lot different,” said Leyton.
“It’s great to see all the vendors out and have the music and see people gathering. It’s great.”
Barb MacDougall, the day’s second performer, has done some Zoom shows during the pandemic but says the delay makes performances very difficult. Her return to the Farmer’s Market was her first in front of an audience since February 2019, and she and Barnes plan to start busking downtown now that it is permitted in the city.
The market has been open since June 6 but has been without performers to this point.
On-site manager Emma Barken says it took some small changes to accommodate for musicians, but that performers are eager to return and bring a much more pleasant atmosphere to the market.
“Sometimes there are lineups and so the music helps alleviate that boredom in line but it really adds to the vendor’s experience too because they’re standing here all day so they get to listen to some music,” said Barker.
“And obviously musicians need help too, they’re happy to get back and play and have an audience.”
Barken added that last year’s virtual curb-side market will likely return as a hybrid with the in-person event, and is hopeful restrictions will be eased as the summer rolls along.
The market features local vendors outside the Memorial Centre every Sunday from 9-2 weather permitting, with performers from 10-2.
Details and measures for COVID-19 can be found here.