Corvallis Indoor Winter Market returns Jan. 8, promises ‘exceptional variety’

Adia Wolters, News Contributor

On Jan. 8, Corvallis Farmers’ Market vendors will move their businesses from downtown to the Benton County Fairgrounds for the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market, which will last through April 9.

The CIWM struggled with new sets of COVID-19 protocols in the 2020-21 indoor market season, despite food businesses being deemed essential by state and county health officials, according to Rebecca Landis, the market director of Corvallis- Albany Farmers’ Markets.

“Food was the focus of customers at that point, so most craft vendors stopped coming,” Landis said in an email. “[In that] season we could not fit the craft vendors and meet all the requirements.”

Since the 2020 CIWM took place before COVID-19 vaccines were available—pandemic restrictions were only starting to be enforced in March of that year—many vendors did not participate due to health concerns, according to Landis.

“I’m sure the pandemic became a turning point for some businesses,” Landis said.

However, this year features a new way of organizing the market.

“For 2022, we only have a mask requirement to manage,” Landis said. “Many crafters will return.”

Lynne Miller, president of the market’s Board of Directors and owner of Slippery G Family Farm, agreed with Landis.

“We’re going to be a little closer to normal because we don’t have the social distancing mandate that we had last year,” Miller said.

The CIWM will continue to follow the state of Oregon’s mask mandate and will also provide hand washing stations, according to Miller.

“There are not that many winter markets in Oregon,” Landis said. “I have not been to the others, but my sense is this one has an exceptional variety of locally grown food available. The larger organic farms—still what I consider small farms–have high tunnels that help them grow things you could not grow without cover.”

Miller said she works to diversify the selection of vendors in order for the market to thrive.

“[In regards to vendor selections] we want to enhance the market because the more variety we have, the more people will come, then everybody does better,” Miller said.

The CIWM, despite its title, will hold vendors indoors and outdoors. Vendors have mixed feelings over this.

Natania Hernandez, a marketer at the farmstand Lonesome Whistle, said she’s happy to remain indoors out of harsher weather. Julia Sunkler, owner of My Pharm, said she’s worried COVID-19 concerns will cause some customers to avoid going to the indoor businesses.

Sunkler’s business sells fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs, and she said diversification of the market is important in order for businesses to be successful. Since it’s a greater challenge to bring in customers in winter time, Sunkler said a full market with a variety of stands helps bring in more people.

Vendors, including Sunkler, have been preparing year round for the market to begin. Sunkler has purposely been planting crops that will keep well through the winter.

Market Leader of Gathering Together Farms Will Hormann said they have been preparing months ahead of time.

“We’ve been doing markets year round for 20 years,” Hormann said. “We’ve been preparing since spring, planting our root vegetables.”

Gathering Together Farms will bring a variety of vegetables to this year’s market, as well as pastries, fermented foods and salsa.

Hernandez said she thinks Lonesome Whistle’s array of flavored popcorns will be a winter hit.

“A lot of people like popcorn for staying inside and watching movies,” Hernandez said.

Her favorite popcorn flavor is a mix between the garlic dill and masala.

Lonesome Whistle will also be selling flours, grains and polenta at the CIWM.

April Hall Cutting, the owner and baker at Wild Yeast Bakery, said the bakery will bring an array of breads and pastries.

“We make about 24 kinds of bread, so we just keep them rotating through. We bring lots of wholegrain pastries, try to feature local ingredients like not just the wheats and ryes, but cheeses, fruits and occasionally vegetables that are grown right here,” Hall Cutting said. “I like that [the CIWM] happens.”

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