Red River Market resilient despite COVID-19

Fall is in full swing and Fargo’s local market is still up and running. The Red River Market has been in Fargo since 2015 and has become immensely popular. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there are crowds of people at every tent looking to buy fresh produce from local farms or delicious food from local restaurants.

This season, however, the Red River Market has had to make some changes in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. When you enter the market area, you will see that almost everyone is wearing a mask and that there are sanitizer stations placed throughout the market. The vendors have had to limit the amount of people who can stand under their tents and increase their sanitation procedures.

While the pandemic has created some complications for market-goers and vendors, the Red River Market has been resilient and the community has put much of its support behind the market. Even during this time of uncertainty, the community still craves the fun and friendly atmosphere of the Red River Market.

The Red River Market truck is a popular place to take photos while at the market | Kay Franzese

Before COVID-19 hit, people were able to walk into the market area without wearing a mask, social distancing or sanitizing their hands after touching something. Concordia student Anna Bushy had been to the market before COVID-19 and she offered her insight to how the market has changed from before the pandemic and after the pandemic.

“I feel like now there is kind of an air of uncertainty when you go. Just having to sanitize when you walk in and everybody has their masks on. It’s really different because you used to be able to go around freely and not worry about everything you touch,” she said.

In North Dakota, masks are not mandated, but people still come to the market wearing their masks and sanitizing their hands. The requirements and recommendations from the North Dakota state government have been actively addressed at the market in order to keep the market open during these times. 

Jen Skoog from Family Roots Farm is selling at the Red River Market for the second year. Like many other small businesses, her business has seen a decline of customers due to COVID-19, but has still been able to maintain a steady stream of support from the community.

“The customers we do have do a phenomenal job of really upping their orders for our sales, so it’s definitely helped make up for a lot of that,” she said. 

For many of the vendors, the Red River Market is not only a place where they can sell their produce, but it is also a place where they can become a part of the community here in Fargo. 

The pandemic has been difficult for many, but it has especially impacted those who own small businesses. Fortunately, the Red River Market has done a lot to ensure that their vendors’ businesses are able to sell at the Market. 

Skoog shared her appreciation for the market coordinators. 

“The coordinators have done a great job at making sure that we’re still able to have the vendors. The space between vendors has actually been a plus, so that’s been great. And they’ve been really good at making sure the market still has its authenticity even though things have changed,” she said.

Another highlight of the market is the live music played by local musicians. It adds another fun aspect of community to the market and keeps the people at the market humming along while they are shopping.

Musicians have also been impacted by the pandemic in the sense that gig opportunities have slowed, but that hasn’t stopped musicians like singer-songwriter Jake Ingamar from performing at the market. Many gigs that take place for musicians often occur indoors, such as bars, and that has been a struggle for these musicians as they are trying to make a living while being precautious of the virus.

The Market also offers a special opportunity for these musicians since they perform outdoors.

“The people who run the market have been unbelievably nice here and I really appreciate it. Every time I leave here, I feel good,” said Ingamar. 

While COVID-19 has affected many aspects of life, the Red River Market continues to be resilient and share some of that resilience with its community by providing a safe and social environment for people to enjoy.

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