This past Sunday, the Broome County Regional Farmers Market hosted its Springtime Artisan Market at 840 Upper Front St. The event hosted approximately 35 local vendors, ranging from visual artwork, dessert ice cream and macaroons, plants, jewelry, farm produce, candles, puzzles, springtime decor and beyond. Each vendor expressed their own talents and creativity, but more than anything emphasized the importance of supporting the community through paying note to local businesses.

Molly McManus, market events coordinator for the Broome County Regional Farmers Market, spoke about the event and everything that went into its preparation. McManus explained how the market was less crowded in the afternoon than when they had initially opened at 10 a.m., but still put forth a significant effort in maintaining the event’s energy throughout the day. The themes of supporting local businesses, along with other members of the community, specifically during a time that has been tough for many people, remained eminent through speaking to McManus and other participants.

“These local vendors are our friends and neighbors, they are the backbone and the fabric of our community,” McManus said. “When we support a local business it goes back into our community 10 times over.”

McManus continued by discussing the importance of events such as this one during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[The Springtime Artisan Market] helps give us a sense of normalcy, but we certainly understand that not everyone can or feels comfortable coming out,” McManus said. “In that case, still check out our social media pages that feature a lot of the vendors that have Etsy shops and websites — we still try to find a way to connect to them even if it’s not in person.”

McManus encouraged individuals to stop by the vendors and encouraged the safety of visitors. She made clear the precautions that they had put forth in order to abide by the protocol itself, but also to make the event as comfortable as possible by enforcing the mask mandate and providing masks or face shields for those who needed them. She also explained that visitors had the option of utilizing a personal shopper to whom they could give their list in order to avoid any exposure. Furthermore, McManus asked people to be mindful of personal space and when to approach a vendor depending on the perceived crowd at the moment.

Morgan Hastings, owner of Binghamton’s Upstate Grain and Binghamton resident, expressed a similar excitement and overall hopefulness about the day. Like McManus, Hastings reiterated the importance of events such as this one in providing a platform for businesses during a time in which opportunities tend to be limited.

“There are not a lot of outlets during [COVID-19] for people to showcase what they are making and what amazing products they have,” Hastings said.

Despite these restrictions, Hastings, who makes and sells 100 percent natural soy candles, illustrated some other ways that we can support local businesses during an unconventional time. Hastings expressed appreciation for her own company, which has a storefront on 81 Clinton St., but provides online shopping with free local delivery because she understands that leaving the house is not always an option. With an awareness of these less fortunate times, Hastings also plans on hosting pop-up vendors in her own shop to help small businesses, similar to the way the Springtime Artisan Market does for her.

The market overall radiated a sense of passion, support and community. Unlike typical shopping centers, vendors demonstrated the purpose of providing a pleasant experience and sharing their gifts with others. After buying a hanging plant myself, the vendor showed appreciation and eagerness in getting out her products to someone of interest. This eagerness was further exemplified by Hastings who consistently highlighted how making candles was a passion, and part of that passion was creating something that makes people happy. During a time when our lives are far from normal, it is refreshing to see people trying to improve the lives of their surrounding community members.

If you are interested in attending future events by the Broome County Regional Farmers Market, they host Saturday Farmers Market events year-round from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and plan to have a summer flea market, fall artisan market and holiday market. The market was forced to limit their usual extensive list of events, such as goat yoga, due to the COVID-19 precautions, but continues to value the importance of connecting with people in the best, safest way possible.

While times are different, the Springtime Artisan Market stressed the impending warm, sunny weather and the sense of togetherness that the Binghamton community achieves when they unify in events like these.

As McManus affirmed, it is always “nice to see some friendly eyes!”