How farmers markets and outdoor popup events can overcome post-COVID-19 challenges

In this 5-minute read:

  • Stay informed
  • Safety best practices
  • Keep customers informed with marketing

We all look forward to the warmer weather when we can go out and enjoy the sunshine, visit with friends, and of course check out local outdoor events like farmers markets and street fairs. This year has brought a challenge for these events and the businesses that depend on them as COVID-19 continues on. 

While specific areas across the country have cancelled or postponed their local farmers markets and outdoor events, several have opted to keep moving forward with these events. We want to provide some best practices for those businesses and organizers that participate in these events in order to bring success and safety for everyone. 

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Stay informed of COVID-19 updates in your area

The most important thing to do as you plan and determine whether to cancel, postpone, or hold your event is to know what is going on with the coronavirus in your area. Have there been a spike in local cases? What are your state and local regulations? 

Pay attention to the updates that local public health officials are sharing and use those to guide your decisions around these events. 

Also, be mindful of the guidelines that the CDC has set in place for large gatherings such as farmers markets and fairs:

Engage in planning efforts with local health officials. Include local health officials and keep relationships with them throughout your planning and preparation for the event. Take their advice to keep your event safe for all who attend. 

Sign up for alerts from the CDC and local health officials. These alerts will keep you informed and help you make educated decisions for your event. Share these alerts and any decisions you make with all of your vendors. 

Promote messages of preventative care. Send these messages to all of our event staff and vendors to keep them informed and help them get into the habit of practicing safety measures prior to the event. 

Safety best practices for farmers markets and outdoor events post-COVID-19

As you are well aware, farmers markets and outdoor events draw in the crowds. People are always excited to get out in the sunshine and get some shopping done. And with recent events, being cooped up indoors for a couple of months is going to have even more people itching to get outside. 

It’s important to take safety precautions to ensure the health of your vendors, staff, and customers as well as to allow the events to continue on its regular schedule. If there are disease outbreaks after local events, local health officials may decide to shut them down. 

Encourage staff, vendors, and customers to engage in these safety measures to keep contact to a minimum:

  • Create more distance between each vendor booth and encourage each vendor to create a space between them and their customers (i.e. use wider tables for handling transactions)
  • Help vendors design their space to allow for social distance–no parallel rows of inventory where people have to squeeze by each other (this may even involve allowing larger booth spaces if possible)
  • Discourage samples from being handed out to prevent cross-contamination
  • Encourage cashless and contactless transactions where possible. Strongly urge each vendor to provide a card reader for their customers to make purchases with and discourage the use of cash/change. If vendors are accepting cash, encourage them to use gloves while handling any currency

  • Set up handwashing stations throughout the event to encourage customers and staff to keep good hygiene
  • Encourage all attendees to wear masks to the event. The CDC recommends wearing face coverings when social distancing is difficult to maintain, and they state that these masks will help slow the spread of the virus, particularly if someone is asymptomatic and doesn’t know they have the disease
  • Discourage people who are sick (or showing any symptoms of sickness) from attending the event
  • Set up markers on the ground where lines tend to congregate to encourage customers to stand 6 feet apart 
  • Set up a welcome booth at the market entrance and set up a fence around the market (even a roped off area for the event) to allow only a certain number of people in at any given time depending on the size of the space
  • Encourage vendors to have additional cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and PPE and provide this when possible

Set these expectations with all attendees of the event. Make sure your vendors know what is expected of them and provide plenty of opportunities for customers to be made aware of all safety practices. 

Continue marketing and keep your customers informed

As you venture into the post-COVID-19 business race, it is crucial to keep your customers informed through your marketing efforts. Make sure they are aware of any changes to hours or dates due to the virus. 

Post updates and safety tips on your social media pages, website, and advertising throughout the community to reinforce the precautions that you are taking. This will help more customers feel better about coming to the event as well as encourage them to take the necessary precautions to slow any spreading of COVID-19. 

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