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Wednesday community market comes to downtown Flagstaff
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Wednesday community market comes to downtown Flagstaff

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Farmers Market 3

A booth at the Flagstaff Community Market held on Sundays is shown in this file photo. The new downtown market that takes place on Wednesdays is the result of a partnership between them and the FDBA.

Wednesday evening will bring a new community market to downtown Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance (FDBA) and Flagstaff Community Market have partnered to create an evening dinner market that will run throughout the summer.

“Flagstaff has a really great market culture and community, and one of the gaps in that culture of outdoor public markets and events is an evening dinner market,” said Art Babbott, one of the founders of the Flagstaff Community Market.

The downtown market will take place on Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. on Aspen Avenue at Heritage Square downtown. Its first season will run from June 16 through Sept. 8. Parking in downtown Flagstaff is free after 5 p.m.

Around 30 vendors are expected to attend the first market, from locations in and around Flagstaff and as far away as the Verde Valley. They include shops such as Olive the Best and Lillie Mae’s Pickles as well as growers like Los Reyes Farms and Two Sisters Tomatoes. Various artists will also be participating, including live music.

Babbott called the downtown market a mix of the Sunday farmer’s market, the urban flea market and “a place where the downtown businesses can come out in a vibrant street fair setting.”

For FDBA executive director Terry Madeksza, the new market is a way for the downtown area to become a more appealing destination during the week and for people in Flagstaff to have more access to healthy foods. It also serves as a way to support small businesses.

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“I have seen what the Sunday market started as,” she said. “I have seen how the community comes out and supports and loves the Sunday market. ...It really is to experience a sense of community and I wanted to create that [in the downtown area] as well.”

While the downtown market is very similar to the farmer's market already occurring on Sunday nights, part of its origin comes from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This has been a conversation off and on for many, many years,” Babbott said. “What has changed is the reality that the pandemic really made people look at downtown spaces differently. It made businesses, the community and local government ask questions about what new opportunities can we collaborate on to keep our downtown businesses vibrant and successful.”

He mentioned a street closure early on that allowed businesses to expand into an open air environment.

Eventually, the hope is for the market to become a signature event in Flagstaff.

“I'm hoping this event results in a vibrant experience where people want to come down and be a part,” Madeksza said. “Whether they’re buying food ... or they're interacting with some of the artists, it's creating a second day during the week where people get to experience the truest sense of the word community. ...We really want to invite people to come down just to experience it.”

June 15th is a big day here in California. Physical distancing, capacity limits and a county tier system have ended. Over a year of restrictions."You had time to grow, time to spend with your family,"  Christina, from San Diego said. Months of frustration...I got really bored of wearing a mask," Tamer from Oakland said.  Theres finally a break for the Golden State. California, the first to shut down in March 2020, now 15 months ago...is among the last states to lift its COVID mandates. Masks are gone for fully vaccinated folks, but businesses can decide if they still want people to wear them. "I'm very happy because after many months closed and after the hard times for the COVID, now I see that the light is coming,"Martha Medina, a merchant at Olverita's Village in San Francisco said. Officials are hoping for a tourism boost...about half a million jobs in the state were lost during the height of the pandemic. "Business was off 70 percent last year, though it has really affected the Wharf," Tom La Torre, Owner of Sabella & La Torre Restaurant says of Fisherman's Warf, a popular tourist spot in San Francisco. Since mass vaccination sites began rolling out in early 2021, California has some of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. It once had the highest coronavirus community spread rates in the country -- showing what a difference vaccines are making.  Two-thirds of people 12 and up here have gotten at least one dose. There are still neighborhoods with low vaccination rates. Wealthier areas and white communities are outpacing low-income and Black and Latino populations.  The states awarded more than $15 million in lotteries to try to drive those numbers up. Even with all that, some are still weary of the virus. "I feel like Im not ready" Adelle from Oakland told Newsy."Just this-this is what I feel comfortable with right now," a woman in San Diego said.Some restrictions remain. Those unvaxed, still need a mask. Anyone on public transportation needs one too. Same with schools K-12, and some workplaces. Really, it's up to the business.At the Oakland Zoo, theyre still requiring social distancing and masks in high traffic places inside and outside. "We have people coming from other counties, people coming from out of state who may not have been vaccinated yet," Isabella Linares, Marketing Associate for the Oakland Zoo said. Many people Newsy spoke with are still confused by masking. Businesses can decide if they want to rely on the honor system or use a digital vaccination verification, set to roll out later this month.  Lindsey Theis, Newsy. San Francisco. 

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