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Fort St. John's new festival plaza opens with farmers market

The plaza at the corner of 100 Street and 96 Avenue includes an all-season building for events and markets, outdoor performance space, food vendor stalls, public washrooms, and artistic obelisks for heating and lighting

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.

FSJFarmersMarket-May2021-3Opening day of the new Fort St. John festival plaza and the 2021 farmers' market, May 1, 2021. By Dillon Giancola

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. 

FSJFarmersMarket-May2021-5From left: Faye Campbell, Rylie Flynn and Robyn Flynn enjoy the morning at the city's new festival plaza and take in opening day of the farmer's market on May 1, 2021. . By Dillon Giancola

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.

FSJFarmersMarket-May2021-8April Beard, and daughters Breanna (top) and Kali are enjoying the sunny morning out at the city's new festival plaza and fireplaces, May 1, 2021. By Dillon Giancola

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.

FSJFarmersMarket-May2021-6Vendors Nadia Mori and Michelle Schaeffer, with Declan Schaeffer, are all set up for the first farmer's market at the new festival plaza. By Dillon Giancola

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.

FSJFarmersMarket-May2021Opening day of the new Fort St. John festival plaza and the 2021 farmers' market, May 1, 2021. By Dillon Giancola