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Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market will remain drive-thru all summer; Market After Dark canceled

Crowds fill Second Street SE during the Market after Dark in downtown Cedar Rapids on Saturday, August 26, 2016. (Cliff
Crowds fill Second Street SE during the Market after Dark in downtown Cedar Rapids on Saturday, August 26, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

The remainder of the Downtown Cedar Rapids Farmers Markets will be a drive through market this summer, and Market After Dark, which was scheduled for Aug. 22, is canceled, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance announced Tuesday.

The Economic Alliance had previously scheduled just the June markets as drive-through only after canceling a May market date, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news release, the organization said though currently state guidelines allow public gatherings of over 10 people, they need to ensure at least 6 feet between each group or individual attending, which would be challenging at the crowded markets.

“A typical Downtown Farmers Market sees about 14,000 attendees and Market After Dark saw 50,000 people last year,” said Economic Alliance events planner Ellie Evans. “Ensuring social distancing with large-scale community events like a traditional Downtown Farmers Market and Market After Dark would be near impossible. Our top priority is the health and safety of attendees, volunteers and vendors, and our decision reflects that.”

The Economic Alliance hosted the first drive-through farmers market on June 6, with around 430 cars attending and about 1,400 items purchased from market vendors. After the market, some vendors told The Gazette they had only sold a fraction of what they typically do at in-person markets.

The remaining 2020 Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market dates are June 20, July 4, July 18, August 1, August 15, September 5 and September 19. The June 20 market will be 7:30 a.m. to noon, and the remaining markets will be 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Customers should place orders online by 6 p.m. the Thursday before each market, at cedarrapids.shopwhereilive.com. They will then be given an order number and drive through the market to pickup their purchases. No purchases may be made on-site.

Guidelines for farmers markets have expanded to allow all types of market vendors, including artisan and crafts. Attendees can expect to see these products, in addition to farm products and food products, starting with the July 4 market.

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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