Manhattan Farmers Market

Home-grown goodness on display for sale at the Manhattan Farmers Market.

Farmers markets in Belgrade, Manhattan and Three Forks will take place this summer despite the COVID-19 restrictions that have forced the cancellation of numerous other festivals and activities in the Gallatin Valley.

 That is especially welcome news in Manhattan, where the future of the event was uncertain long before the pandemic hit. Founder and longtime leader Pat Figgins announced last summer she was stepping down from the responsibility after 14 years and looking for someone to take over. The call for a replacement was answered by the Gallatin Conservation District because, “It’s a great way for us to support farmers and the agricultural world in Manhattan,” said the GDC’s District Administrator Becky Clements.  

Figgins is helping the conservation district with the transition, as well as with figuring out necessary modifications to comply with state and county health regulations related to the pandemic.

“This is a huge learning curve for us,” Clements said. “Thankfully she (Figgins) is still very generously helping us through the summer.”

In Belgrade, the city has given the go-ahead for the Belgrade Community Market to be held at Lewis and Clark Park on Thursdays evenings from July 9-Sept. 10, according to Silvia Crooks, president of the BCM board.

“It’ll be a little leaner – maybe fewer activities and less entertainment – but we are moving forward,” Crooks said. “The community could use it. I feel like people are going to want to get out.”

The Farmers Market in Three Forks will begin July 9 and run every Thursday through Sept. 3 at Railroad Park. Diane Phillips, who has coordinated the event on behalf of the Three Forks Chamber of Commerce for eight years, said the market will operate under the same Gallatin City-County Health Department guidelines that will govern the Belgrade and Manhattan markets – e.g., with more distance between vendor stations, with hand sanitizer available at every booth and elsewhere in the parks, and with produce packaged by vendors so it isn’t being handled by numerous customers. Signs and markers on the ground will remind market-goers to maintain physical distance from others.

In past years, different Three Forks-based nonprofit agencies haven taken turns hosting weekly barbecues at the market, but the health department is prohibiting that activity, at least for the first few weeks.

“The health department said we can’t do that in July, but will re-look at it for August,” Phillips said.

 In Belgrade, Crooks said there may be fewer booths this year than in the past because of the distancing requirements. Anyone interested in reserving space should apply as soon as possible at belgradecommunitymarket.com – for more information, e-mail bcmvendors@gmail.com. The fee is $10 per night, and full-season spots are available.

As in Three Forks, dining options 

at this year’s Belgrade market are likely to be curtailed. Due to health regulations, Crooks said it’s possible that prepared food will not be available from vendors and food trucks as it has been in past years.

This is the fourth year the Belgrade Community Market will be held at Lewis and Clark Park, and the first that it will be operated entirely by the Belgrade Community Market organization, which was granted 501(c)(4) nonprofit status over the winter. The market was started four years ago in collaboration with the Belgrade Community Coalition.

Any business interested in supporting the market with operation expenses should e-mail bcmsponsors@gmail.com. Those contributing will receive public advertising in return for their donations.