A Sunday afternoon stroll through the Upper Village in the summer reveals a touch of the rustic in Whistler’s typically polished image.
Nestled between the Fairmont Chateau and Glacier Lodge, starting this Sunday and continuing every Sunday through to Thanksgiving, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., you can browse through tables laden with tasty, fresh-from-the-farm goodies, and booths lined with handmade clothing, jewelry, and trinkets, all with the smell of fresh popcorn wafting through the air.
Rick Clare helped found Whistler Farmers’ Market, with the help of David Roberts and Bernie Casavant, almost 13 years ago, using it as a tool to draw foot traffic to the area during the quieter summer months.
“Whistler not being a farming community, we had to take some liberties at first,” Clare explained, adding that they recruited farmers from as far away as 100 Mile House and Lillooet. “But it’s grown into a much better product than we had originally envisioned, actually.”
When they first started the market, there were only about 30 vendors. This year, they had over 120 vendors apply for permits.
And while the content of the market has stayed generally the same over the years, Clare said this year they are focusing on bringing in more entertainment to help create a livelier atmosphere.
They’ve also increased their marketing and entertainment budget by 30 to 40 per cent this year.
“People enjoy the entertainment, and we want to make it more of an experience, so when you come up for the weekend, if you don’t want to buy vegetables or fruit or whatever, you’ll come back because it’s a nice place to be,” he added.
So far, they’ve had a lot of interest from local entertainers, and not just musicians — this year’s market may feature entertainment by a juggler and a crystal artisan.
Among a few new additions to the market this year will be more food vendors from Pemberton and D’Arcy, a candy floss stand, and new local merchants, including some unique new jewelers and clothing manufacturers.
Since its been a cold, damp spring, you can expect the produce side of the market to be a bit scarce at first, though Clare said they still plan to offer lots of fresh goodies, including berries and fruit that will be brought up from the Lower Mainland.
“Our mandate really is to support local endeavours and to support people who have been coming there for a while,” Clare said.
And there are a lot of vendors, both locally and throughout the province, who are eager to sell their wares in Whistler. Clare attributes the market’s popularity and longevity to a combination of affordable stall rentals and a great community atmosphere.