Fort St. John's new festival plaza opened to the public Saturday with the first farmers market of the season.
The new plaza facility is large and spacious, full of natural light, and has vendors stationed both inside and out.
The market is open until 3 p.m. Masks are required and visitors are asked to practice social distancing and good sanitization practices.
The plaza, at the corner of 100 Street and 96 Avenue, includes an all-season building for events and markets, an outdoor performance space, stalls for food vendors, public washrooms, and artistic obelisks for heating and lighting. Kalmar Construction built the plaza, as part of a $3.27-million tender awarded last year.
Patrons checking out the plaza for the first time were really impressed, and are excited about the possibilities it presents to both the farmer's market and other events.
"It's awesome, a lot better to have it here than at the senior's hall. It's much better for the farmers, and I can't wait to see (the plaza) with the doors open," said Robyn Flynn.
Jane Sheldon said, "It's really great. We're so happy to see some people back after such a long time."
Last year, local artists were invited to submit concepts to adorn the fire obelisks installed around the plaza performance space. Each obelisk features gas-fueled cauldron within an enclosed steel structure to illuminate the imagery and provide heat to spectators.
April Beard said she likes the new plaza and can't wait to see what it looks like when the obelisks are lit up, as her daughters enjoyed running around the performance space.
Vendors were glad to finally hold an event at the new plaza.
"We're really lucky to have a facility like this in Fort St. John," said vendor Michelle Schaeffer.
Farmer's market president Bess Legault was busy in the morning making sure everyone — vendors and patrons — were set up, had what they needed, and were enjoying themselves.
"So far, so good. Everyone seems to be having a great time," said Legault.
The plaza also features eight leaning wood poles mimicking the skeleton structure of a teepee, artistic paving patterns with a variety of coloured concrete surfaces, including a coloured river that mimics the alignment of the Peace River, and bronze paw prints to replicate true gaits and spacing of wildlife.