WATERTOWN — Vendor Loren Bush thought Wednesday that the first day of the farmers market in downtown had the atmosphere that things are back to normal after going through the COVID-19 pandemic last summer.
It’s the 10th year Mr. Bush has brought his produce tent, Bush Gardens, back to the Greater Watertown-North Country Farm & Craft Market and he was ready to see people come back in droves to the weekly ritual as they had in the past.
“Last year was tough,” he said.
The farmers market was one of the few summer events that wasn’t lost in the COVID pandemic last year.
This season, the state has eased up on masking guidelines, allowing anyone vaccinated not to wear a mask and unvaccinated people encouraged to have facial coverings.
He’s vaccinated so he went maskless on Wednesday.
Like in past years, Bush Gardens offered mostly plants on Wednesday, with plans to sell lettuce, colored greens and swiss curd next week and then add more produce as the season progresses.
Back for its 45th year, the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce puts on the farmers market, held along sections of Washington and Sterling streets.
With things getting back to normal, Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Kylie S. Peck was pleased with turnout and the weather. It was busy during the noon hour with people strolling through the more than 20 vendors that were there Wednesday.
The rain mostly held off, with some raindrops falling for a few minutes just as the lunchtime crowd returned to work.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” she said.
On the market’s first day, Melissa Miller made her debut at the farmers market with her Morey & Me dog treats business. She makes a variety of dog treats in her Potsdam apartment kitchen.
Her 18-month-old dark red golden, Morey, inspired her to make the treats because she wanted to make sure that he could snack on something healthy and natural.
The business grew from that idea.
A friend told her about the farmers market, so she decided to make the trek from home to see what people thought about her treats.
“Today was great,” she said. “It’s busy.”
In their fourth year, Jerry and Cathy Sherman, who own C & J Kettle Corn, are now veterans of the farmers market.
In 2017, they bought the business from his uncle and aunt, Steve and Diane Rutigliano, who retired after pitching their vendor’s tent and selling their kettle corn for 17 seasons.
The new owners expanded the business to two tents dominated by a kettle corn motif.
“Just by looking at it, they know what we sell,” Mr. Sherman said.
The farmers market will be held weekly until Oct. 6, running from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays.
As in previous years, vendors will accept EBT and WIC, which allows people who have redeemed food stamp benefits to buy fruits and vegetables.