Currie Barracks farmers' market has last hurrah

The Calgary Farmers' Market was set to close its doors at Currie Barracks for the last time Thursday night, and many longtime customers showed up to say their goodbyes.

New location will open in southeast Calgary in February

The Calgary Farmers' Market will close its location at Currie Barracks and reopen in the city's southeast in February. ((CBC))

The Calgary Farmers' Market was set to close its doors at Currie Barracks for the last time Thursday night.

Six-and-a-half years after those doors opened for the first time, the lease is up and there are plans to develop the land.

Many longtime customers showed up at the market to say their goodbyes.

Shopper Charlie Vandaele told CBC News that he has visited the southwest market every Saturday for six years.

"We come, we have our meat pie, we do our tasting, we buy some vegetables, and it's part of our routine," he said "It's casual, basically the people are friendly — it's an atmosphere that you're shopping in, rather than a super clean box-store."

Saying farewell to customers that helped grow his business over the years has been tough, said Henry Mandelbaum, owner of the Tutti Frutti coffee stand.

"For the last month, we haven't stopped taking pictures with everybody, smiling with everybody, crying with everybody," said Mandelbaum. "So it's been a lot of memories, and it has been very good. We have been blessed to be here in Calgary at the market."

Effort made to replicate market design

Tutti Frutti is one of the vendors that won't be moving to the new location, at Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive in the southeast.

"For six years, we made a living. But more than that, we were coming to work to have fun. That's what really happened here," said Mandelbaum, who opened his coffee stand not long after immigrating to Canada from Colombia.

Vendor Steve Habrel of CribbageWorks has worked at Currie Barracks for five years. He said he's excited about the move.

Charlie Vandaele has shopped at the Calgary Farmers' Market every Saturday for six years. He said he would give the new location a shot, despite the distance he'll have to travel to get there.

"It's sort of like a new beginning," said Habrel, who sells custom cribbage boards and other games and crafts. "A lot of existing customers, I expect, will come back to the new market, but we'll get a lot of new customers and new exposure."

Calgary Farmers' Market general manager Ken Aylesworth said that while it was an emotional last day, the new market would reflect the old one.

"You'll never recapture what this building is all about, but we've done our best to recreate it," said Aylesworth. "We employed the same designers that did this building."

The new market is set to open on the first weekend of February.