Imagine a bustling place in the Tri-Region where you can hear some of the best in local music, try out some fantastic food trucks while your kids have a fun time hanging out with Spider-Man. Here’s the twist: you don’t have to imagine it! We’re talking about the Spruce Grove Public Markets, a sprawling marketplace that takes place in the city’s very own Columbus Park a few times each year. We’re talking fresh produce and fruit, plus plenty more like face painting, sparkle tattoos and vendors offering some of the most unique wares in the Tri-Region and more.
The family-friendly initiative began as a collaboration between the city and the Spruce Grove City Centre Business Association as a way to help invigorate life into Spruce Grove’s core and create more vital hot spots for the community to come together. For Jamie-Lynn Pitts, who works for the city as an Economic Development Specialist, these public markets are a no-brainer because it’s less about spending money and more about spending quality time.
“People are looking for something fun to do on a Sunday and there’s no pressure to spend. That’s probably the most exciting thing for people when they come to our markets,” she says. “We have people sit at the picnic tables and lay in the grass and enjoy themselves. They listen to some phenomenal local acts and music, they get to do activities with their children at no cost.”
Get Acquainted In All Things Spruce Grove
What separates the Spruce Grove Public Markets from your average farmers’ market are two things. Firstly, the entertainment; the Public Markets often feature live music and dance, kid-friendly entertainment and visits from special guests such as Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen. Each market has a massive activities tent with plenty of fun, rain or shine. Each public market has its own corresponding theme and the upcoming one on August 12th is no different, as Spruce Grove gears up for its second annual Art Walk. As you tour through a wide selection of vendors, you’ll get the chance to gaze upon some fantastic art and pieces created by artists from the region. Adults and youth will also get the chance to be inspired by the art and really “Rock the Art Walk” as they can paint rocks provided by the Spruce Grove Allied Arts Council.
Then there’s the size. The very first public market debuted two years ago, with 25-30 vendors. Pitt describes the beginning as a ‘start-up process’ as community organizers reached out to farmers’ markets in the Tri-Region, Edmonton and beyond, asking if they’d be willing to put out the word to vendors about these ongoing public markets. They took every vendor willing to come in on Sundays and from there, it was word of mouth and the markets exploded.
One year later, the market had to request two road closures just to accommodate the growth of vendors. Now the Public Markets see more than 100 vendors, attracting approximately 4000-5000 people in foot traffic. Just to break that down, that’s 650-700 shoppers at any given moment.
“They’ve really grown at a rapid rate. The community has been just phenomenal, both local and neighbouring residents.” Pitts says. “[They] teeter on the line of almost being a one-day festival.”
The Public Markets attract people who may not be from the area and provide them with their first experience to just what the Tri-Region is all about. It’s a special time as community residents, city officials and business owners are all ready and raring to go with the ongoing revitalization in Spruce Grove and beyond. For Pitts, it’s a must that the momentum continues and these markets are the key.
“We are not just a section outside of Edmonton if you will.” Pitts says. “We’re not just big-box buildings. We are an active, living and working community. If you come, you will feel the inspiration.”
The next Spruce Grove Public Market happens August 12 in Columbus Park, with the final two of the summer taking place on August 26th and September 9th, respectively.