Berry Sweet: A retrospective on the Strawberry Social

A Strawberry Tamale from The Tamale Girl. Image courtesy of Nela Jankechova.

Two weeks ago today, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market held its inaugural Strawberry Social. The event was created in the hopes of showcasing a beloved but rarely celebrated fruit, as reported to the Observer by market manager Megan Malcolmson [1]. While there were happy customers, many attendees were disappointed by the event.

The Social featured traditional vendors, as well as bars, entertainers, and live music. Entrance for one adult was $8 before tax, and drink tickets sold for $8 as well. The atmosphere was pleasant and a variety of regular and new vendors sold special strawberry-themed food, drinks, and merchandise. The Strawberry Tamale from The Tamale Girl and the Strawberry Pretzel from Grainharvest Breadhouse were the top picks of our boots-on-the ground reporter. 

However, the event may have fallen short of a ‘Social’. While the alliterative title is catchy, ‘Strawberry Market’ would have been a more honest descriptor for the event. Many attendees expressed their displeasure on social media, noting that the paid event had a smaller selection than regular, free of charge market days, with few special strawberry perks to offset the price of admission.

The event was also disrupted by heavy winds, which resulted in several games and events being canceled. Many of the vendors had to take down their booths early.

Shannon Hall, event coordinator at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, said that despite the setbacks, she was happy with the turnout of the social. She noted that the pleasant atmosphere of the band and entertainers, coupled with the lower number of booths, led to a “casual, intimate experience where [attendees] could spend more time sitting with friends enjoying the live music or having more in-depth conversations with their favourite indoor vendors”.

The licensed vendors also led to happy reviews from many attendees. “Having the event licensed enabled our craft brewers to sell their products for consumption – something they are not typically permitted to do on a market day, plus we heard from many guests that they enjoyed wandering throughout the market buildings with their alcoholic beverages in hand.”

Shannon Hall informed us that more night markets are to come, and that the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market will “certainly learn from this experience to be better prepared to handle adverse weather conditions.” The future of the Strawberry Social, however, is uncertain.

[1] L. Gerber, “A new kind of strawberry social at the farmers’ market,” The Observer, Jun. 1, 2022. Dec. 31, 1969).


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