The last time the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market opened for the summer season, it was cold and a chance of thunder hung in the air. That was two years ago.
Tomorrow, the weather will be warm and there won’t be a cloud in the sky when the market reopens for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And because of the pandemic, visitors will see a slightly different market.
“At every entry point we can, we’ll have a sign asking you to please maintain social distancing, wear your mask, and wash your hands,” Lodi Chamber of Commerce CEO Pat Patrick said.
“We’ll have hand-washing stations near the mobile restrooms,” he added. “And while we’ll have less farmers and vendors than before, we will have some new people joining us.”
Some of those new faces, Patrick said, include Loco Poke, the Hawaiian cuisine restaurant at 1012 W. Lodi Ave., as well as Flavor Fusion, a Stockton cafe that specializes in Boba tea.
In addition, Rustic Garden, Stockton’s mobile plant boutique, will have a variety of plants for sale.
There will be no beer garden or wine garden this year, as the two features will not allow visitors to maintain the proper social distancing of six feet from each other.
However, many downtown restaurants will be open and serve beverages indoors or under the canopies they have set up outside.
Because those tents and canopies will be using parking stalls there will be significantly fewer farmers and vendors at the market, as they have traditionally occupied spaces with their stands.
“In 2019 we had a little more than 100,” Patrick said. “It’s quite a bit lower this year, but we’ll still have a lot. We’ll have 50. A lot are coming back, but some are still hesitant to return, and we’ll probably see that until business starts ramping up again and consumers are more comfortable going out again.”
Many of the market’s most popular vendors will be returning, including Lockeford Sausage, Ferrari Organic Farms, Toledo Farms, J and J Ramos, KC Flowers, Movable Feast, and Hummus Heaven, among others. In addition to farm-fresh crops, crafts and dining downtown, the chamber will host walk-in vaccination clinics in its conference room, provided by San Joaquin County Public Health Services and the county’s Office of Emergency Services.
Doses will be the “one and done” shot from Johnson & Johnson, as well as the first shot from Pfizer. Those seeking their second shot will not be permitted, the chamber said.
“We are excited to be able to bring the market back downtown this year,” chamber operations director Karen Alvarez said in a media statement Monday. “The city helped us a great deal, for which we are grateful. Our board told us we have to get it back because the community loves it.”
In recent weeks, the city was able to provide the chamber $60,000 in Federal American Rescue Plan Act funding so the organization could bring the market back to downtown.
“Without the grant from the city, we would not have been able to make ends meet this year,” Alvarez said. “We hope they are able to come back next year as things continue to improve.”
The Lodi Certified Farmers Market on School Street will happen every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., with the last market on August 26.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Patrick said. “It’s a great event to be a part of. The chamber feels a great responsibility for providing the community a safe place, and a fun place to come together.”