HOULTON, Maine — Though many traditional spring and summer events in the Houlton area have been canceled or delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Houlton Community Market started its season on Memorial Day weekend, just as it always has done.
That didn’t mean there weren’t changes made in response to the pandemic. Some vendors wore masks — some even sold them — and vendors were placed far apart in order to promote social distancing measures. Only a few vendors were present for the first day of the community market, allowing for such distancing to be more than possible.
“It’s leaving more space, but it’s nice and outside,” said Tess Flannery of Gallifreyan Farms, one of the vendors there on the first day. She was selling asparagus, homemade detergent and masks, as well as “victory gardens” — boxes containing a variety of different plants to be purchased at once. Inspired by World War II victory gardens, her idea was to sell multiple plants at once to customers in order to limit human contact.
The market is also putting a hold on vendors who sell crafts in order to limit the number of participants. Crafters will be allowed again in July, Jane Torres, executive director for the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, said.
“It depends on what the governor does,” Torres said. “But [the crafters] understand that. And we prorated their market fees so they don’t have to pay the full market fee.”
Torres is not too concerned about enforcing distancing measures for the early weeks of the market, since the number of vendors is expected to be smaller anyway, she said.
“We’re leaving space, there’s a lot of signage, we have a table with hand sanitizer for people,” she said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with following the rules for the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets.”
Other vendors on the first day included Tammy Mulvey with Chadwick’s Florist and Pleasant View Tree Farm, selling floral arrangements, and Speicher’s Farm in Hodgdon, which sold pickled vegetables and doughnuts, among other wares.