By Sally Head
That was the questions many folks asked themselves as they visited the Stratford’s first outdoor Shakespeare Winter Market on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival Theatre on Sunday January 17th .
There were not only food vendors and food trucks, but an array of local artisans selling everything from dog biscuits to hand-knit sweaters. About 20 vendors in total set up shop on one of parking lots that used to serve theatre goers back in the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy the local event. This event, spearheaded by Tom Dillion, a local resident, who came up with the idea to get the local vendors, who are usually busy in the Spring and Summer months, to have an excuse to get out and sell their wares during the slower months of Winter. “We wanted to help the vendors, we wanted to give the residents a good excuse to get outside,” Dillion said.
According to Dillion, once the idea was planted, it latched on quickly and soon there were over 70 vendors who wanted to sign up. People were out, some of them for the first time in many weeks, just to get a taste of some local food and perhaps run into a friend of two. The response from the vendors was pretty much the same, “I cannot believe this huge turnout we had. I am running out,” said Nichole Georgakis, owner of KIS Skincare. “I have had to refill my inventory many times. This has been great,” she said with a huge smile on her face, adding, “I guess that is a good thing.”
And good things there were. I happened to pick up a loaf of sourdough bread from the Wave Hill Bakery and I was not disappointed. She explained that she was down to her last two loaves when I walked up to her table. She told me I was lucky and she was afraid of running out. She explained she ran out of her other breads and that next time she was hoping to bake extra, for
she was not prepared for the huge turnout.
Even though it was a huge turnout, everyone was safely distanced and no one stood near or closer than 6 feet apart while waiting in line. All visitors were required to wear a mask. To keep everyone safe, the event was in area that was enclosed by cones and rope and you were asked to enter and exit from two separate openings on this perimeter. There were plenty of volunteers to help steer everyone in the right direction.
Also, the vendors themselves were separated by at least 12 feet and buyers were asked to form a line perpendicular to the vendor tables as to keep anyone purchasing separate from the next buyer. It was well-designed and planned out and everyone seemed to follow the procedures carefully.
Across the roadway in the other parking lot were two food trucks: a Latin cuisine truck and a kettle corn truck. And for those who had enough of vendors and food, they could meander along the beautiful grounds of where the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theater once stood before it burned to the ground on January 13, 2019. One local resident smiled, looked around and said, “I haven’t seen this many people on these grounds since the last time the doors of the theater were open back in the 80’s.”
Despite it being in January, it was a beautiful day to get out, see some old friends you may not have seen in a while, support some local business and of course choose whether or not you wanted to eat. My dog Faith had her answer right away as she scarfed down a delicious dried beef liver tip from Why Not Farms. The owner offered her some and Faith’s answer was clear: she says “it is to EAT!”
This event was the first of many events to happen between now and April 18, 2021. The Shakespeare Market will occur the first and third Sunday from 10-1 pm. Visit the market which is located at 1850 Elm Street. Yesterday’s market was such a huge success that many visitors were wondering if more dates could be added to the schedule.
And from the writer herself, ‘Now, good digestion waits on appetite, and healthy on both!”