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Gloucester Farmers Market returns from COVID shutdown bigger and better

The first Gloucester Farmers Market after COVID shutdown was very busy. Photo supplied

The first Gloucester Farmers Market after COVID shutdown was very busy. Photo supplied

A forced shutdown of the Gloucester Farmers Market may have been disappointing but its back with a vengeance, bigger and better than before.

The plans for the April farmers market were big. With the second Saturday of the month coinciding with the Easter long weekend, which only happens once in a while, things were set to be epic.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the markets were shutdown.

"That would have been a massive weekend for the town. Super disappointing," market organiser, Caitlin Tonelli said.

On June 13, the markets were able to return to Billabong Park as restrictions started to ease, and it was a huge success.

"Stallholders were desperate to come back, especially the farmers who had all their markets closed," Caitlin explained. "It was a record-breaking day for some of them."

She believes the boom in customers has increased as a result of the COVID-19 situation and the inability to get access to some food items in the supermarkets.

"People have had time to think about where their food comes from," she said. "People are excited to get out and support their local growers. People are even market hopping."

People flocked to Billabong Park for the first Gloucester Farmers Market post-COVID shutdown. Photo supplied.

People flocked to Billabong Park for the first Gloucester Farmers Market post-COVID shutdown. Photo supplied.

Off the back of the successful return, the stallholder numbers have risen, with many more wanting to come on board. It's a great relief for the organisers after a number dropped off as a result of the drought and bushfires.

Pre-COVID-19 there were around 30 stalls, whereas the upcoming market on Saturday, July 11 is set to see around 40 vendors.

"We have new stalls and countless enquiries," Caitlin said.

Although the markets have returned to the normal rotation of every second Saturday of the month, things are being run a little different in order to abide by the new rules. There are social distancing signs, hand sanitiser stations and the overall layout is a little different.

Also, all the big plans for the year, including guest speakers, new concepts and additional off-shoots from the markets, have been put on hold until next year. But not all is lost.

"There is still a spectacular visitor planned for near the end of the year," Cailtin revealed with a glint of excitement in her eyes. "It's coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Gloucester Farmers Markets."