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Vendors sold flowers, cheeses, fish and other goods in the new market and the response from the residents was incredible as many of the merchants involved had completely sold all their produce by noon!
The atmosphere was relaxed and families gathered in the square under the shade of the lovely market kiosks. The town will be setting up a better parking area soon and will also have a sitting area where people can relax with a coffee and catch up with their neighbours. Ineed the smiling faces showed that such a community market in Knowlton is a welcome addition.
The committee and Knowlton chamber of commerce who are helping organize the summer market are also evaluating options to bring entertainment to the Saturday market as a way of making it more than just about buying and selling but also about mainting the strong sense of community so important to Knowlton. Bringing in Jazz music and other forms of musical entertainment are some ideas being tossed about. With the success of the June 24th openi9ng day it seems that Knowlton will indeed welcome the addition of a public market and during our short summer season it will be fantastic to have a place to sit down and just watch the people come and go and maybe chat with a neighbour.
There was some concern among residents that if the market turned into a "flea market" it would turn the area into a glorified garage sales full of peddlers but the powers that be seem to be determined to maintain a market that respects the existing flavour, style and dignity of Knowlton.
Some local businesses expressed concern that the market would actually hurt downtown area small business. Suzanna Daigle, resident and owner of a cheese shop in Knowlton, expressed her concern in an open letter to the Mayor of Brome Lake that a Granby cheese maker and importer would be involved in the local market:
"It seems quite unbelievable" she wrote, "that our municipal administration would endorse a project which allows a retail business from out of town to come to our local market to sell its goods and attract a new customer base especially in a domain already well served by the established businesses in Knowlton"
"If merchants are invited, not only should they be local but they should also be restricted to selling products made by them, period"
The chamber of commerce is sensitive to the concerns of local businesses and is planning to actually provide a booth that is staffed by Chamber staff members to sell local merchant produce even if those merchants don't have a full kiosk at the market.
Judging by the crowds at the opening day of the market it seems that people and visitors love the idea of an open air public market and it will inevitiably be good for all of Knowlton if the town can create such stylish and family oriented and environmentally friendly areas where people can gather.
Happy St. Jean!! We'll see you next Saturday at the market!