Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK
Here in Saskatoon, our winter market is becoming a destination spot. That’s because we’ve learned over the years how to really make the most of this season, and because we have partnered with big ag on an event called WinterShines. The market provides the venue and hosts inside and outside activities like sleigh and pony rides, ice games, snow park rides and scavenger hunt, igloo art gallery, world class ice sculptures, soup cook off competitions, indie bands and lots of booze, locally brewed and distilled, of course. Think Disney on Ice crossed with South by Southwest, all packed inside and outside the Saskatoon Farmers Market.
WinterShines’ main corporate sponsor is the world’s largest fertilizer company, which happens to be headquartered right here in Saskatoon – Potash Corp. The event pulls in around 10,000 visitors and spans nine days, including two weekends and weekdays. It is produced by a professional event planning company, and there are a lot of other important players involved in making the event happen, including the city’s tourism agency. The market stays open extra hours on Saturday and Sunday for the event’s concerts. In the early years many of the vendors kept their regular market hours and skipped the evening crowds. But they slowly wised up to the opportunity of capturing some of these new visitors as regular customers, and now the majority of them stay for the extended hours.
So everyone is happy. Potash Corp, gets to have positive involvement in the community, the market raises its profile far beyond its own neighborhood, and I get some of the thrills of a winter vacation, without having to close my business or leave town. Just goes to show that good food and fun can be provided by ag businesses of all sizes.
The Saskatoon Market is in the middle of lots of new development, including new condos and a Whole Foods. Here’s how Wally is assessing the opportunity.