Saturday, May 15th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

City Market Opening Day 2010

I’ve been waiting for this day since the City Market wrapped up for the season last Thanksgiving. Though we did make more of an effort this year to visit the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market on a regular basis in the winter months, there really is nothing like this open air market in Edmonton’s warehouse district. The fact that we can walk to the City Market doesn’t hurt either.

Market Day!

We arrived just before nine, to cool air and still-quiet streets. We never typically arrive at the market this early, but since we missed the opening ceremonies last year, we thought it better to be early than late.

The calm before the storm

We started our day off with a quick stroll around the grounds, then headed off to Blue Plate Diner for some much-needed coffee and breakfast. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather (and opportunity to people watch) by sitting out on the patio – it was one of the best choices we made all day.

Mack twitters on the patio

Pancake breakfast

Mack’s breakfast special – an Italian scramble

We eventually left our comfortable spot and joined the crowds for the opening ceremony. Mayor Mandel, alongside Councillors Ben Henderson, Jane Batty, MLA Laurie Blakeman, MP Laurie Hawn, and oddly, Bob Black of the Katz Group, rang the opening bells (apparently, Black was there to explore the possibility of the EAD housing the market in the winter months…but I’m not convinced). Jon Hall, who is on the City Market Board of Directors, touchingly donated his mother’s antique brass bell to the market, which will now serve as the “official” bell.

Ring, ring!

It was great to see so many people out – an estimated 13,000 by 12:30pm. With the addition of the Southgate and Century Park stations, I am hoping that the foot traffic will grow considerably this year. In terms of the market itself, they have had a 30% increase in vendors in 2010, with over 145 vendors expected in 2010. Although Sparrow’s Nest will not have a booth this year, most vendors from last year are returning, and span the gauntlet of goods from produce, prepared goods, and crafts. Undoubtedly, fresh vegetables are a big draw, and we had to laugh at the twenty-deep line in front of the Edgar Farms booth – early bird patrons were absolutely chomping at the bit for the few bunches of asparagus available this week.

In the storm

In addition to my old favourites (Greens, Eggs and Ham, Irvings Farm Fresh, Doef’s Greenhouses, Kuhlmann’s, Sundog Organics among them), it was great to see already-established businesses utilizing the market as a means of heightening exposure to their products, such as d’Lish and Sweet Lollapalooza.

Though it’s not an exhaustive feature of all products available at the market, these photos highlight just some of the fresh, tasty and creative things to be found at the City Market.

The Market is also hoping to draw crowds to the streets with monthly cultural festivals, particularly fun for families. A Chinese celebration kicked off this feature, with lion and dragon dances bringing appropriate energy to an exciting morning. You can see the schedule of upcoming festivals dates here, with the next one being a Portuguese Festival on June 12.

Lion dance

Great crowd on hand for the festivities

We ended our market trip with a brief visit to deVine’s. In honour of the Chinese Festival, they were sampling wines and beers from China. Though I’ve heard some negative things about Chinese wines in particular (especially because it is such a new industry in that country), I was pleasantly surprised with the Noble Dragon wine. And priced at just $13.95, we had to pick up a bottle to share with my parents.

Chinese beer and wine

It really was a great morning – I hope to do it all again next weekend!

Check out Mack’s Flickr set here, a post from Chris at Eating is the Hard Part here, a post and video clip of the market from Raffaella here, and Valerie (A Canadian Foodie)’s post here.