The Working Waterfront

Islesford’s outdoor market is booming

More summer visitors means quick sales

Barbara Fernald
Posted 2021-10-21
Last Modified 2021-10-21

Last summer’s Bar Road Market on Islesford was just what I needed to give me focus and a chance to safely see people during the odd year of 2020. It was a gathering in the style of a farmer’s market where anyone was welcome to set up a table at noon on Thursday to sell whatever they wanted to sell.

Was it something I wanted to do again this year? I just wasn’t sure. I waited, figuring if others from our dynamic group of women showed interest, I’d want to be included. I just couldn’t find the energy to get the ball rolling.

Jasmine, of the amazing banana bread, produce, and bouquets, sent a group text to see what we could pull together for a market this year. Lindsay, who makes soap and has a large garden, wanted to join us and offered to design a poster for Facebook and Instagram. Mary agreed to make sourdough bread again, I planned to bake English muffins and other assorted items like cookies and crackers, and Lauren wanted to be there with her Cranberry Oyster accessories and to take orders for future harvests.

We didn’t know what to expect, so most of us planned on a soft opening…

There were enough people to give it a go on the first day of July and we were delighted to all be together again. We didn’t know what to expect, so most of us planned on a soft opening, thinking we would add more volume as more people arrived on the island. Everything was gone in 20 minutes.

We started with two fewer bakers than last year. Joanne and Cathleen have daughters getting married, one in July and one in August. They have enough details to keep track of without the added stress of creating tasty things for the market.

Bruce was noncommittal about making doughnuts this year. “I might do it if it’s not a day out.” So far he has made doughnuts for two out of four market days. Last year our motto was, “No two weeks the same!” and it still holds.

Last week my niece, Emma, said she would make sandwiches to sell. I was psyched to buy lunch made by someone else, but I missed out. She came home from fishing, whipped up 14 sandwiches and brought them to the market five minutes after we started. I never even saw her arrive and the sandwiches were gone in five minutes!

Bruce and I were busy selling: five dozen donuts, 11 dozen English muffins, two dozen large pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, seven bags of parmesan poppy seed crackers, a dozen bags of frozen olive cheese puffs, and 15 pieces of Cindy’s blueberry olive oil cake. It was the most we had baked yet.

Bruce’s doughnuts were sold and he was back inside having lunch by 12:15. The rest of my table was empty by 12:25. Mary’s eight loaves of sourdough bread were gone in less than five minutes!
At 12:30, Mary, Emma, Lauren, Jasmine, Lindsay, and I looked at each other with brows raised and saucer eyes. “Whoa, that was intense!”

With fewer vendors and a fuller summer population, this year’s market takes place at a crazy pace. We don’t hold items and we don’t start selling earlier than noon, but this has created a market situation that is new this year—the line.

It’s a strange feeling to see people lining up 20 minutes before we start. We put things out at the last minute to avoid awkwardly facing people for 15 minutes of inactivity. The irony of Bar Road Market is that most of the sellers tend to be introverted. As Mary put it, “None of us would bother to stay if we saw a line like this. We would turn around and say, ‘No thanks, I’ll bake my own cake.’”

I put out a little plea on Facebook for more vendors for the fifth week and several people responded with sandwiches, macaroons, blondies, and more produce. It felt more festive to have a larger group of sellers and the market actually lasted until 12:45. I even had a few butterscotch squares left over to throw in the freezer for a future treat. Who knows what next week will bring? Just like life, no two weeks are the same.

Barbara Fernald lives on Islesford (Little Cranberry Island).