Farmers Market opens this week, concerts close behind — Waterbury Roundabout

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It’s doubtful that anyone imagined in fall 2019 that the final Waterbury Farmers Market would be the last for a year and a half. 

But Rusty Parker Memorial Park was pretty quiet on Thursdays – and pretty much every other day – in 2020. 

This week, the park will return to its bustling summer self when the Waterbury Farmers Market opens for the season at 4 p.m. on Thursday with weekly markets scheduled through Sept. 9. 

The vendor list runs the gamut from the expected veggies and prepared foods to flowers and art, CBD products, chiropractic practitioners and of course, pizza. 

On week two of the market, June 17, the Concerts in the Park organized by the Waterbury Rotary Club start up again. They also took a pandemic hiatus last summer. 

The music starts at 6 p.m. and will go until 8:30 p.m. each week through Aug. 26, according to Rotary organizers. The full concert lineup is posted on the Rotary club’s Facebook page and website. The June 17 show will feature the local group The DEW, which began as a venture in middle school. Band members Dylan (on bass), Emmett (on drums), and Wesley (on guitar) used their first initials to form their band name. The boys play rock ’n’ roll covers and some original songs.

Market Manager Ariel Mondlak said the market will follow state COVID-19 guidelines which now say masks are not required outdoors for vaccinated individuals. “Our general policies with masking will follow the state’s guidelines, but we do encourage folks to consider wearing masks and maintaining social distancing,” she said. 

In addition, the farmers market will be participating in the 3Squares/SNAP and Crop Cash food assistance programs, Mondlak said. The 3Squares program applies to a wide range of food items although it is not applicable for prepared meals, non-food items, etc. It uses tokens that participants can obtain at the market. Crop Cash is an additional benefit that applies to purchases of fruits and vegetables. The Market Manager table will have information on how to shop in order to use these programs. Details on 3Squares can be found here.

Mondlak added that the market also will honor the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to Family program coupons. Eligible participants receive coupons by mail to purchase fruits, vegetables, and other products. More details on that program can be found here. 

Details will be contingent on multiple factors including state COVID-19 guidelines and vendor interest. At this time, organizers are not looking to book musicians or nonprofits for the market. 

June 17 is also the first date for the Waterbury Rotary’s Concert in the Park series that the Rotary Club is planning to resume this summer. 

Market Manager Ariel Montlak asks that prospective vendors fill out the application form to help guide decisions around the market kickoff and operations.   

One shift in the schedule is that Waterbury Arts Fest will be held later than usual. Prior to the pandemic, it was held over two days in July with a Friday night block party featuring live music and food vendors and an all-day Saturday market with artists, food and entertainment. Revitalizing Waterbury’s Executive Director Karen Nevin said organizers are eager to see the popular downtown summer event return and are hoping for few restrictions on gatherings by September. In its first foray back after more than a year of social distancing, Nevin said Arts Fest will focus on taking place for just one day with booths for artists and various vendors, but not the crowded dance party in the blocked-off street. 

The 19th annual festival was called off last year due to the pandemic. After 18 years through 2019, it has become a signature annual event and key fundraiser for the nonprofit community development organization. 

More details will be announced later this year for Arts Fest 2021, Nevin promised. 

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