The Riverside Farmers Market is planning to kick off its 2020 season on Wednesday, June 17, employing a tightly controlled layout where shoppers and vendors will maintain social distancing to ensure the safety of all involved.
Ron Malchiodi, the village’s director of parks and recreation, told elected officials at their meeting on May 21 that the market is being run according to guidelines issued by the Illinois Farmers Market Association and after taking a look at procedures being employed by other area markets, including Oak Park, Hinsdale, Palatine and Evanston.
“The market is actually not viewed any differently than a grocery store, other than being outdoors, so many of these you’re already used to will be in place for safety at our market as well,” Malchiodi said.
Customers, market volunteers and vendors will be required to wear face coverings while attending the market, which will be located in Centennial Park, at Longcommon Road and Pine Avenue, where the historic water tower in located, in downtown Riverside.
The market hours will be from 2:30 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday until market season ends Oct. 7.
Foot traffic will be one way inside the market, which the entry and exit both on Pine Avenue. The entry will be the sidewalk south of the recreation department building at 10 Pine Ave.
Shoppers will walk the path that cuts behind the water tower and then around the rear of the Riverside Historical Museum, exiting onto Pine Avenue north of the rec department building.
Malchiodi said they are requesting that shoppers be limited to one member per family, if possible. Kids must not be left unattended at any time.
“The entrance will be monitored and control how many customers enter the market, and how many customers are in the market at one time,” Malchiodi said. “Those waiting in line will maintain a six-foot distance from one another; there’ll be markings placed on the ground.”
To help maintain that tight control, there will be additional signage and staff to help direct shoppers and remind them of the rules, if need be.
Booth placement will be staggered and they’ll be appropriately spaced apart from one another, with only two employees per booth, one handling packaging and one handling the transaction. There will also be hand sanitizer available at all booths.
Customers will not be able to touch products. The products will be on a table at the rear of the booth and will be placed on a table in front when the customer selects them. Customers can bring their own reusable bags, but the bag can’t be handed back and forth with vendors. Once items are purchased and handed over, the customer can place the item in their own bags.
At least to start with, the market is not allowing prepared foods to be sold at the market and there won’t be any live music performances to limit people from congregating in and around the market area.
Market officials are also encouraging customers to pre-order items directly through vendors, which will bring those orders to the market for pickup.
Information and updates about the market and how to pre-order will be communicated via the Riverside Farmers Market Facebook page (facebook.com/Riverside.Farmers.Mkt) or on Riverside’s village website (riverside.il.us/369/Farmers-Market).
Malchiodi said market managers and his staff will reassess conditions throughout the season and make changes in accordance with direction from state officials, local public safety officials and health inspectors.
He is expected to provide trustees with a recap of the first market day of the 2020 season at the village board’s meeting on June 18.