ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Nova Scotia’s first Craft Beer Farmers Market May 13 drew almost a dozen vendors on its first day – and lots of customers.
A steady stream of craft beer lovers, including Premier Stephen McNeil, made their way through Annapolis Royal’s Market Square to sample the wares and pick up a few cans, bottles, or growlers.
The market concept started with Danny McClair and Paul St Laurent of Annapolis Brewing Company. They booked the space from the town for every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the fall.
If they were prognosticating a good turnout for such a venture, they were right. Predicted bad weather turned warm and Sunny and vendors from across the Annapolis Valley set up in the rustic market booths and were busy for four hours straight.
“For the first ever Nova Scotia Craft Beer, Spirits, and Wine Farmers Market we’re happy with the turnout – being Mother’s Day,” said St Laurent. “The weather’s been cooperative and we expect it to get busier and busier as we move on into the season. But we’re happy with the turnout.”
Customers were able to sample craft beer, cider, wine, and spirits, along with kombucha, a healthy, probiotic, non-alcohol drink made from fermented tea and fruits, herbs, and botanicals. They could then purchase their favourites.
St Laurent said the feedback from those purchasing from the vendors has been great.
“They keep telling us this is great, it’s perfect for the area,” said McClair. “It’s been a long time coming.”
“We’d like to add more vendors obviously as we go on,” said St. Laurent. “It’s a great spot right here across from the wharf on a beautiful sunny day. It’s good. We’re nine vendors here today. We’d like to see it get to 15 or 20 ideally as a goal.”
Just like the vendors, the clientele came from all over.
“I just actually served a gentleman from Halifax,” said St Laurent. “He drove up here today, from Halifax, for this market. He’s seeing breweries that aren’t predominantly showcased in the city. So it’s great. He’ll head back to the city now and talk about the beers he’s tasted here. It’s nice to see that people will come from all over. As the tourist season keeps going now we should have people from all over the world tasting our beers.”
Asked how he thought the inaugural event was going, McClair was positive about the first day.
“I’m going to have to go with ‘unreal,’” he said. “I’m really pleased with the turnout. There’s people coming in and out. It’s a steady crowd. It’s not super crowded yet but I’m sure we’ll get there, but it gives us time to talk to people, talk about our products, and introduce them to new things, have a chat, and see what they’re looking for.”
McNeil, at home in his own riding, stopped and talked with every vendor. He said changes to help the craft brewing sector are in the works and coming soon.
McClair said the May 13 opening was just the start and bodes well for the market.
“I recommend people come back every Sunday,” he said. “We have variety and one-stop shopping. They get to sample products, they get to interact with the people who are making their drink.”
Among vendors were Horton Ridge, Lunn’s Mill, Annapolis Brewing, Wayfarer’s, Meander River, Solas Kombucha, Casa Nova, Still Fired Distillery, and Roof Hound. Darren Rodwell manned a booth that sold hand crafted growler carriers, wine racks, and other related items.