The Sioux City Farmers Market opened for the season on Wednesday, drawing some 300 people who quickly shopped for fresh fruits and vegetables, then left.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, market manager Becky Barnes says the new-normal event is acting like more of a transactional marketplace rather than a social hub.

“A lot of people came in, got what they needed and they headed out,” she says.

Vendors are spaced 14 feet apart, and following Governor Kim Reynolds’ order, there’s no music, games or seating. Six hand sanitizer stations sit throughout the market and they were well-used.

“That bar was raised from years past,” Barnes says. “Seeing everyone come in and using those hand sanitizer stations, that was reassuring to me that the community also wants to stay safe while they’re down there.”

The farmers market opened despite a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Woodbury County.

“I didn’t see any patrons staying for the amount of the time they have in the past,” Barnes says. “I think it went over pretty well. The atmosphere, it’s a little different, we don’t have our music like we used to and we don’t have our seats like we used to.”

Barnes says most patrons wore masks. The market strongly encourages this, but it’s not required. She says they’ll have a vendor that sells masks in the near future.

(By Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)