A Foothills market mainstay is getting set for another merry season.
The Millarville Christmas Market, held annually at the Millarville Racetrack and Agricultural Society, will return with a similar format to the past year.
Using the same timed entry ticketing system, shoppers will be able to browse by hundreds of local vendors peddling arts and crafts, housewares, food, and other wares, doing so with reduced crowding and health measures in place.
“We have about 250 vendors this year and we’ve added a third tent,” said market manager Melonie McKee. “It gives us a little bit more indoor space but spaced out.”
While still 100 less than before COVID, the vendor count is higher than last year, and the practice has made the market a well-oiled machine.
“We learned a lot last year, we got fantastic feedback from Alberta Health Services,” said McKee, adding AHS used Millarville as a model for other markets.
“Last year the vendors were super happy, the customers were super happy. We had nothing but really great feedback on how much space there was for everybody.
“They never felt crowded at all. It was just a really good shopping experience all around for both parties.”
Those spaces include the riding arena, three heated tents, the Agricultural Society’s hall, and the quonset.
Food trucks will also be on site, along with the mainstay Spolumbos concession.
The reindeer will be making a comeback for patrons to visit, as will the man in red.
“We’re also having photos with Santa in the basement of the hall again," McKee said. "They figured out how to do that while maintaining social distancing."
Another stalwart for the younger shoppers, the Kids Only Shop will return for children 12 and under, with everything priced at $10 or less and gift-wrapped on location. It will also require pre-booking, McKee said, and will be available to do so while booking entry tickets.
“They’ll have their own little space, we’ll just be regulating how many people are in at the same time,” she said.
“This year is really important for the vendors. They’re small businesses and they’re really looking for that extra support from our community.
"It’s really important for them, especially this time of year—it helps them get through the non-market season."
The market will run Nov. 4-7 and 11-14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $5.95 to enter.
While somewhat early in the season, McKee said the choice of dates was made to avoid encroaching on the times of other markets in the region.
As a retail venue, the market is not operating under the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) but will operate at one-third capacity. Masking indoors and frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces will be in place among other measures.
For the most up-to-date information on health measures or for more information about the market, visit millarvilleracetrack.com