The announcement comes after Gov. Kim Reynolds said on April 24 that farmers markets were among the events and businesses that could begin reopening on May 1 while maintaining social practicing guidelines.

But plans for the virtual event were in the works well before the governor’s announcement, said Kelly Foss, director of the Downtown Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve been working on a way to open the market without physically opening the market for several weeks,” Foss told the Business Record. “This has been in play for a while, and as it unfolds, there are a lot of details and pieces and elements coming together as we get closer to opening day.”

The hourlong virtual Market Meet-Up event is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on the Farmers’ Market Facebook page, and will provide opportunities for market-goers to connect with vendors, and to continue to support the state’s farmers, Foss said.

It will also include cooking demonstrations, recipes, and live music and entertainment all while keeping market-goers and vendors safe, according to a news release.

The Downtown Farmers’ Market plans to kick off its season Saturday with a different experience for marketgoers.

The Farmers’ Market’s opening day had been in jeopardy because of social distancing guidelines put in place by the state to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The market draws an average of 25,000 people and around 300 vendors to the Court Avenue district in downtown Des Moines on Saturday mornings from May through October.

The announcement comes after Gov. Kim Reynolds said on April 24 that farmers markets were among the events and businesses that could begin reopening on May 1 while maintaining social practicing guidelines.

But plans for the virtual event were in the works well before the governor’s announcement, said Kelly Foss, director of the Downtown Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve been working on a way to open the market without physically opening the market for several weeks,” Foss told the Business Record. “This has been in play for a while, and as it unfolds, there are a lot of details and pieces and elements coming together as we get closer to opening day.”

The hourlong virtual Market Meet-Up event is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. on the Farmers’ Market Facebook page, and will provide opportunities for market-goers to connect with vendors, and to continue to support the state’s farmers, Foss said.

It will also include cooking demonstrations, recipes, and live music and entertainment all while keeping market-goers and vendors safe, according to a news release.

“In this era of physical distancing, public safety and support for our vendors and shoppers are of the utmost importance,” Kelly Foss, director of the Downtown Farmers’ Market, said in a news release. “This is a fun opportunity to get together virtually and celebrate some of our favorite elements of the Downtown Farmers’ Market, so I encourage you to make your breakfast, prepare a cup of coffee and join us to learn how you can shop from local market vendors.”

The virtual market will embrace interactive social media that will highlight vendors, products and sponsors.

Information will be shared on how to buy products from vendors, cooking demonstrations and recipes, and live music and entertainment, according to the news release announcing the event. 

The Market Meet-Up, coordinated in partnership with DSMTV Live, will kick off with a virtual opening bell ceremony followed by a virtual toast to vendors and shoppers. All elements of the production will be carried out while practicing social distancing, organizers said.

The virtual Market Meet-Up will also be held on May 9 and May 16, and organizers said they are continuing to evaluate their next steps for hosting an outdoor market by following public health guidelines.

“When we started with a three week timeframe as a starting point, with so many unknowns right now, we want to make sure we get a good starting point,” Foss said to the Business Record. “The whole point of the virtual market is to connect vendors with people who participate. It may evolve and look differently than it does the first three weeks, and we’re working through those pieces.”

She said updates would be posted on the Farmers’ Markets Facebook page and its website.

Foss, who is in her 20th season with the Farmers’ Market, said not being able to do a live market this year has been disappointing.

“The market is a symbol of spring, it’s a great community gathering place in what a small town might consider their town square,” she said. “It’s disappointing for all events that have had to postpone or look to other avenues to create those moments. I’m not sure we can replace those moments, but that’s what we’re trying to do with our virtual Market Meet-Up event.”