Lines of people snaking along food trucks, children dueling with stringy balloons twisted into swords, and complementing guitar chords created an aura (and aroma) of the familiar as the parking lot of the Mary Winspear Centre hosted the inaugural Sidney Street Market of 2021 scheduled to run every Sunday until and including Oct. 10.
Whitney Stubbs, her husband Scott, and their children, Bellamy and Carmen, were among those who came out to enjoy the various offerings of the market, with Scott holding a white bag of still-hot mini-donuts while pushing Carmen in her stroller.
“It’s sort of a return to normalcy. It’s different, but it’s great for what we are able to do these days,” said Whitney.
Laurie McDermid, market organizer with West Coast Impressions, said she heard that comment from many who walked through the gates, which opened at 11 a.m and closed at 3 p.m. “They are happy just to feel that there is activity, that there is something to do.”
Last year, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the market, which has historically drawn thousands to a closed-off section of Beacon Avenue on Thursday nights during summer months. The cancellation hurt the local economy and Sidney’s sense of community.
“It is going to be so nice in a little while, as people catch on,” said Mike Dada, a Sidney resident and self-described comedy balloon artist.
“I think people really need a chance to be around people. We can do it safely. We are outdoors. We are masked. There is plenty of room for everybody. But it is a human condition that we need to be around people.”
This returning sense of normality also has an upside for Dada, who says he has been off work for the last seven months. He now looks to make up for lost lost time by being at the market every Sunday. “I’m excited to go out and make some smiles happening.”
The market features familiar protocols designed to fight COVID-19. They include a separate entry and exit, requirements to wear masks and use hand sanitizers, and other measures such as managed traffic flow. “It’s all done appropriately,” said McDermid. “It’s a huge area. It’s outdoors. Everybody is very comfortable.”
Organizers expect ot have the market back on Beacon Avenue in 2022.
“(The 2021 market) will be a year of difference, like everything else,” said McDermid. “This is a modified version for this year and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
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