Hundred's of people attended the opening day of the North Bay Farmer's Market Saturday, now open for it's 15th year. Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony which officially kicked off the season. Fedeli took advantage of the opportunity, to purchase some locally grown produce.
"Where else can you go and buy ingredients for your dinner, grown by people you know?" Fedeli asked.
North Bay City Councillor Jeff Serran also took part in the opening day festivities.
"What a great way to help grow the economy by having these folks here," he said.
"It's not just for North Bay but it's for the region because we have a lot of regional market vendors and producers here. So we're really excited they're back."
Fifty-six booths were open for business on opening day. Many participants also took part in the first winter market for people still looking for fresh produce and work by local artisans in the off season.
Market manager Stephanie Booth said their location at the North Bay Mall filled a void.
"We thought let's try it and it was phenomenal. We had customers who had never been to the market before, show up. So it was great. We're hoping they'll follow us downtown now and enjoy it in the big scale of everything being outside,"said Booth.
The long term goal for the Market is to find it a permanent four season location where weather isn't a factor.
"We've got feelers out looking for spots," Booth said.
"If it's a partnership idea we'll look for that as well."
There is no exact time frame in mind to purchase. The market manager said the group is continuing to grow and expand, and learn what it is people want. Booth says they're utilizing some new technology to give a truer picture of how many people attend the market.
"Because we do ball park guessing, and now we need to know exactly how many people come, which will help down the road to figure out exactly what kind of space we need, location and everything else."
Booth went on to explain how the technology works.
"Today for example we have a camera in the sky at one of our light posts, that's taking still shots of the crowd all day long. So that way we can kind of get an accurate count. And during the winter months, we actually did door counters to see how many people were coming through each day."
The market can count on Natalie Cooper's family to be there most weekends.
"We were just looking to see what produce was available. We were looking for a rhubarb plant which we did buy, and came for breakfast."
Cooper said she enjoys the family atmosphere.
"It's a fun place to bring the kids and they often have a balloon man making balloons for the kids and my son really enjoys that."
Mitch Deschatelets of Leisure Farms in Sturgeon Falls, says they have watched the number of customers increase every year, with many coming back with their friends. He said having a place to sell their goods means a lot to local farmers.
"Being in Northern Ontario, being away from the large markets, it makes it a lot more viable if you can sell everything locally," stated Dechatelets.
"We have seen some who have started just as part-time hobby farmers, who are now full-time farmers and that means a lot I think."
The mid-week market opens for it's fourth year this Wednesday, May 24th at 10 a.m., beside Discovery North Bay Museum. Both markets are open rain or shine.