Musical market 

This year's upper village farmer's market features a long list of performers

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JIM HEGAN, SUBMITTED - summer fun Whistler's Animal Nation will be one of 24 musical acts performing at the farmer's market this summer.
  • Photo by Jim Hegan, submitted
  • summer fun Whistler's Animal Nation will be one of 24 musical acts performing at the farmer's market this summer.

Whistler's annual farmer's market is set to kick off its 19th season June 16.

While the market has been drawing locals to its Upper Village location for nearly two decades, it has continued to grow and evolve both its artisan and farm offerings and its entertainment over the years.

Pique sat down with Chris Quinlan, market manager, to talk about what kind of music we can expect this year, how it's changed over the years and what other kinds of entertainment will be on display each Sunday.

Pique: Who's performing this year?

Chris Quinlan: We've got about 24 different entertainers. The majority of them are from the Sea to Sky corridor. You've got Rachel Thom, Jon Shrier, Jeremy Thom. We've got a special little concert we're going to do with Animal Nation. We also have a group coming in for three sessions called Rio Samaya and they're amazing. They have a Spanish calypso thing going on. There are just two of them and they're amazing, fun, super interactive. We always have to put them in the centre for babies and moms to dance. They're based in Vancouver, but they tour all over the world. We're also doing something different. We're working with Vibe dance studio to do little flash mobs. They did one last year and it was great fun. It was towards the end of the day so there was room in there. They came in and set it up and boogied through. It was fantastic.

Pique: Is there one performer per event?

CQ: The market is Wednesday and Sunday, but we only hire entertainment for Sunday. We have about three to four entertainers rotate through because we operate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. That's a long set. We'll have a minimum of three entertainers a day and on really busy days we'll have four.

Pique: What does music add to the whole thing?

CQ: It's ambience. It's animation. Farmer's markets are not about coming and getting your produce. They're about that whole social reconnection. Centuries ago people went to a public market to not only get their goods, but also to catch up. That's really what we built the farmer's market around. We have about 20 to 25 farmers at the height of the season, but we operate with about 85 vendors on a daily basis on Sundays. It goes back to the reason we started it. It's our 20th anniversary next year and it was started to drive traffic to the Upper Village. We started out with one farmer, a jeweller, maybe a crafter and then if we were lucky a musician then it grew to what it is today.

Pique: Is anything else new this year?

CQ: We're building on the last few years. We're looking to add some more street performance-style entertainment, possibly bring a juggler in there, something like that, to provide interaction with the guests as well. We're really fortunate to have 24 people rotating through.

Pique: Do the number of applicants grow each year?

CQ: It's definitely grown. The first year I inherited a spreadsheet with some phone numbers on it and I'd phone them. I'd booked bands in bars before but never for a farmer's market. Last year we focused on keeping the sets tight and this year we'll build on what it is we offer beyond your standard duo or acoustic numbers.

Pique: What do you look for when you're hiring musicians?

CQ: Professionalism. If you don't sound like you know what you're doing, it won't work. You've got to be able to interact. There are some amazing musicians out there who will put you to sleep. That's unfortunate, but that's what it is. That's not to say if we had a virtuoso violinist come in and play we wouldn't say, 'Yeah! Sure!' You want it to be interactive and evolve as much as the market does. People bring their families in. If there wasn't something to engage the kids it would be a bit of a nightmare.

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