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With new COVID rules, Capital City market will move, Boise Farmers Market weighs options

Boise’s new event requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19 are requiring changes and adjustments for the city’s two largest outdoor public markets.

Both Capital City Public Market and the Boise Farmers Market will institute changes in order to comply with Mayor Lauren McLean’s new requirements for special events within the City of Boise that dropped last week after Idaho instituted crisis standards of care statewide.

More than 250 people at a time attend the markets, and under the new city rules will need to require proof of vaccination or a negative test to attend and masking for all attendees. 

[McLean announces new mask, vaccine protocols for some events]

Downtown market changing cities

Rather than comply with the requirements, Capital City Public Market is taking its operation back to Garden City instead.

President for the market’s Board of Directors Janel Miles said after the city’s regulations came out the organization surveyed vendors to find out how many would be willing to show documentation of vaccination or get a negative COVID-19 test. Of those, only 50% said they would be willing to follow the new regulations.

Miles said without half of the vendors the market wouldn’t be able to afford the costs of putting on the large event on the streets of downtown Boise. Starting next Saturday the market will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 34th Street in Garden City through December instead, which she dubbed “the miracle on 34th Street” for the holiday season.

This won’t be easy on the vendors, though. Miles said without the traffic from shoppers visiting Boise and staying downtown, it cuts the sales way down. 

“We run half the sales in Garden City,” Miles said. “The biggest factor is tourism with all of the hotels and people visiting for Boise State games. We still get all of our Boise local traffic in Garden City, but it’s the other half of the traffic when we’re downtown that’s the other half of the sales. Everyone really enjoys Garden City, but the main thing is just sales and commerce.”

[July: It’s back: Saturday market will return to Downtown Boise soon – in a slightly new spot]

Boise Farmers Market is staying put

The Boise Farmers Market is sticking with its current location on Shoreline Drive and is still weighing its options for how to comply with the city’s new COVID-19 rules.

Starting this weekend, proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be required of all vendors and customers at the market. Customers may bring their vaccination card or proof in a wellness app. This documentation must match the name on the customer or vendors’ ID.

Anyone can still shop at the market using the online ordering system, which can be found here.

President of the market’s Board of Directors Elayne Rayne said the market is still working with the city to understand the requirement and how they can make the market work safely. Unlike Capital City Public Market, the bulk of Boise Farmers Market vendors sell fruits, vegetables, meat, and other food items instead of gifts.

“I would say as a market we fall into the special events category because we don’t have a permanent home and that is unfortunate,” Rayne said. “We are an essential service and we provide highly nutritious food to the community in a really safe way so we are reaching out to the city to recognize that although we technically fall under the special events umbrella we feel like food markets should be treated differently than concerts and conventions.”

Rayne said the market has a number of options, including switching back to only a drive-thru market for customers who select their orders online. But, this is problematic for vendors because they saw sales drop 90% when the market switched to online ordering and curbside pick up when COVID-19 first hit Idaho last year.

BoiseDev’s Autum Robertson contributed reporting.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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