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Albert Lea Farmers Market prepares to open amid coronavirus pandemic

Albert Lea Farmers Market has been a local tradition for 40 years, and while it may operate a bit differently this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will return once more.

The market is set to open June 3, operating from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays through Oct. 30 in the north parking lot on Broadway in downtown Albert Lea.

The market — which typically sells items such as jams, jellies, honey, eggs, maple syrup, fruits, vegetables and crafts, among others — will have certain practices in place to keep both vendors and visitors safe, according to longtime Albert Lea Farmers Market advocate Verlys Huntley.

All vendors will be required to wear face masks and to keep 6 feet apart from other vendors. They will also keep products apart from customers by placing empty tables in between produce tables and customers to keep some distance. Customers will not be allowed to touch products prior to purchasing, but can point out or ask about products. Customers cannot use their own reusable or cloth bags at the market, as the market will be required to use bags provided by the vendors. Each vendor will have hand sanitizer on their table for their own use and the customers’, and will also sanitize their tables periodically.

Customers are encouraged to use the foot-operated hand sanitizing station  in the red storage barn upon entering the market. Market organizers are also asking one person do the shopping for each household, if possible, and for people to consider wearing face masks as a courtesy and safety to others, Huntley said. She emphasized people should not come to the market if they are not feeling well.

Albert Lea Farmers Market will have one-way customer aisles, and coming to the market with a prepared list as well as smaller bills will expedite the shopping experience, according to Huntley.

No pets will be allowed at the market site this year, and no food consumption will be permitted on site.

Vendors will avoid visiting for too long with customers — something Huntley said will be difficult for them — until the pandemic is over.

For those who are unable to attend the market in person, drive-up services will be available. Those requesting drive-up services are encouraged to call at least two days ahead of time. On market day, they or whoever is picking up their order would arrive at the market 30 minutes before it opens, park their vehicle and either call or let someone know they’re ready to have their order delivered to their vehicle.

Those requesting services or who have other questions about Albert Lea Farmers Market can call 507-448-3312, 507-402-1516 or 507-297-5546.