MOSCOW — After a heavily modified Moscow Farmers Market last year, the market, which starts May 1, is expected to look closer to normal this year.
Moscow Community Events Manager Amanda Argona told the Moscow City Council Administrative Committee on Monday that the plan is to allow all vendors to return; market entertainment to return in a “very modified capacity;” and the Motor-In market, which was introduced last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to return in a different location.
Entertainment, which was not allowed last year, was the focus of the committee’s discussion.
The city’s plan is to offer music entertainment with restrictions, including barricades between performers and patrons, no chairs for patrons and face coverings to be worn by performers in certain circumstances.
“Entertainment has a very big sway on the ability for vendors to make sales and the atmosphere of the market,” Argona said.
Argona said the feedback she received from vendors last year was that even music playing from an iPod, for example, would be “super beneficial.”
She said the market is expected to include an hour dedicated to customers who are at high risk for coronavirus complications, as was done last year. The Motor-In market, a contactless, pre-paid, pick-up location, will be offered in the Jackson Street parking lot instead of in the City Hall parking lot like last year.
“I think if there are people who are nervous about being around other people there are options available for them,” Argona said.
Councilor Gina Taruscio said she worries about the return of live music.
“I really happen to believe strongly that the entertainment is the most expendable part of the market and having just been to Boise this weekend and seeing what non-socially distant, non-mask-wearing crowd looks like, it’s very uncomfortable,” she said.
Argona said if entertainment does return, there would be no reduction in vendor fees. If it does not return, she suggested waiving vendor registration fees this market season.
“In my review of the plan, it appears it’s all staffed for success and allows us to do some pivots if we need to depending on the circumstances,” City Supervisor Gary Riedner said.
In other business, the Administrative Committee discussed permitting community events in public rights-of-way.
In August, the city council suspended events in public rights-of-way because of COVID-19.
All events expecting more than 50 people are required to develop a large gathering plan and submit a required attestation to Public Health – Idaho North Central District that confirms the event will follow necessary physical distancing and hygiene protocols. Idaho is in Stage 3 of its reopening plan, which limits gatherings to 50 people or fewer.
Argona said the Community Events Division has started to receive inquiries about hosting events in public rights-of-way. Those inquiries include a University of Idaho Greek event in late April that organizers expect would draw fewer than 200 people.
Argona said the Moscow Renaissance Fair has also contacted the city and plans to move its May event to Main Street this year to help manage the flow of traffic because of COVID-19. The gathering is typically held at East City Park. The organizers also submitted an application for a Moscow Renaissance Fair sidewalk parade that would lead to East City Park after the downtown event.
The city has already submitted a mass gathering plan for the Moscow Farmers Market.
The committee expressed concern about a potential 200-person event and a parade, and at least two councilors suggested signs be posted letting the public know a large gathering event is happening and to avoid the location if concerned about the spread of COVID-19.
“There’s still a lot of nervousness and I just want to make sure we’re always aware of that,” Councilor Sandra Kelly said.
Argona said the health district requires the large gathering and attestation plan be posted in public.
The farmers market operations proposal and community events application process will be considered by the full city council at its next meeting, which is 7 p.m. April 5.
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