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Houlton Community Market sees first weekend of new freedoms

HOULTON, Maine — Houlton’s Community Market held its first outing of the year in Houlton’s Market Square on May 22. Two days later, restrictions on social distancing and mask-wearing for vaccinated people were lifted, enabling the market to return to something resembling its pre-pandemic self. 

Vendors sold goods such as homemade doughnuts, plant seedlings and hand-made crafts to residents who turned out on each Saturday morning. Many of the vendors who did not partake in the first weeks of last year’s opening, which occurred during the middle of the pandemic, returned this year. The community market also saw newcomers serve as vendors, such as Sunnyside Farms, which sold eggs and chicken. 

“We were surprised at how many new people were there,” said Jane Torres, the executive director of the Houlton Chamber of Commerce. “So that’s kind of exciting.”

Jonathan Preston (left), age 7, gets his face painted by Orla Schwenk, also age 7, at the Houlton Community Market on May 29.  (Alexander MacDougall | Houlton Pioneer Times)

Torres also hopes to introduce new features for this year’s community market as well. One such will be the addition of a community market on Wednesdays beginning in July, which would focus more on food products looking to sell remaining produce. The Wednesday market is expected to run from 2-6 p.m., and would be smaller so as to not interfere with traffic around Market Square. 

“We had a lot of our vendors who do vegetables come to us and say, we harvested a lot on Monday and it just doesn’t hold until Saturday, can we do a Wednesday market?,” Torres said. “And we thought that’s a great opportunity for people to get out of work and come downtown to buy some vegetables.” 

The community will also work to host events every other week this year that are geared toward children, such as rock painting and scavenger hunts. The market will continue its Harvest Bucks program, which allows people receiving SNAP benefits to use their money for vegetables at the market.

Connie Messier of Sherman stands with some of her husband Tim’s homemade crafts and artwork at the Houlton Community Market on May 29. (Alexander MacDougall | Houlton Pioneer Times)

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