The city has given the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) the okay to move up its reopening under the Fuller Warren Bridge to this Saturday, May 23.
“We're going into this allowing 40 vendors to come in so that would be right at 30%,” said RAM Senior Manager John Silveira. Prior to COVID-19 restrictions, an average RAM would feature about 120 vendors.
Silveira said RAM has been deemed an essential business, which means food will be the main focus when the market reopens. Food trucks and some of the farmers will be returning with things like blueberries and honey.
It’s not known when arts and crafts vendors and live performers will be allowed to return. “We'll need a couple of weeks to evaluate that, you know, the processes that we put in place and implement this Saturday are going to provide a safe shopping experience for the customer, but also for the makers that are present,” Silveira said.
He said vendors will be required to wear masks, sanitize equipment and take measures to reduce contact between patrons and vendors. RAM is also recommending that customers wear masks to the market.
Silveira said he received word from the city late Friday that the live, outdoor market could reopen.
“I think they [the city] are comfortable with the safety plan that we presented, that provides social distancing,” said Silveirva, who added, “there will be ample room for social distancing.”
Once he got the green light, Silveira and his team worked over the weekend to speed up reopening plans.
He also said the first virtual RAM market, which was held this past Saturday, was a success. The city decided to extend it until midnight on its opening day because of the strong response.
The virtual market on Facebook will feature many of the artists that would normally be on site but aren’t allowed to return yet. The virtual RAM will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday while the in-person RAM will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We're happy that we have kind of two events now to take care of 100% of … the people that we serve,” Silveira said.
Bill Bortzfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.