As of Friday, the Ontario government relaxed of outdoor gathering numbers to 10 people outdoors, and reintroduced outdoor dining with up to four people per table, and the non-essential in-person retail shopping at 15 percent capacity. Religious services, outdoor exercise classes, day camps and overnight camping are also be permitted to resume, though at reduced capacity.
Residents took advantage of the new restrictions to visit their favourite restaurants, pubs and stores. The easing of restrictions also permitted organizers to hold the first Russell Community Market at the village’s fairground.
The market, which will be held on the second Sunday of every month until October, had a range of vendors selling farm produce, snacks, arts and crafts between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Planning for the event started in October, when new resident Natalie Hewitt asked the Russell Agricultural Society whether there would be interest in a local market.
“I moved to Russell in March of last year with my husband. We were walking around the fairgrounds and had just been to other markets in the area and thought, ‘Russell’s the perfect place to have a farmers’ market’, and we wanted to know if there was one or there were plans to have one,” she said.
Hewitt’s fellow residents appeared to agree: a line had formed before the market opened on Sunday morning. The eight members of the market committee worked with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and Township of Russell to ensure the event could be held safely and adhere to COVID-19 regulations. The agricultural society, Melanie Construction, and Barry's Home Hardware also provided sponsorship support.
Hewitt said the all-clear to host the event had only been granted late last week, giving the organizers little time to prepare. “We had a few safety plans in place, anticipating we would be able to open,” she said. “Our vendors were great, they really flexible about being tentatively accepted to the market.”
Special events and expansions of the market were planned in the coming months.