NewsMissoula County


Clark Fork River Market to open this weekend with new protocol

Caras Park
Posted at 7:12 AM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 09:12:19-04

MISSOULA — One of Missoula’s most popular events will be back in action this Saturday bringing you a little bit of normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Clark Fork River Market is set to open at its normal location in downtown Missoula, but it will have some updated policies.

As of right now, only raw agricultural products will be sold, leaving only about 60 vendors on site. However, people could see more booths -- those with baked goods, personal care items, and crafts integrated into the market down the road.

The market will only have one entrance and exit located on Pattee Street, and organizers are asking that you avoid coming in groups. Capacity is limited to 250 people total, including vendors and employees, so only one customer per household will be allowed into the market unless assistance is required. Additionally, all patrons will be required to wear a mask.

Despite all of the changes, market manager Kirsten Hands says it’s important to remember the impact you make when shopping local.

“When you are supporting local agriculture, you're supporting food that stays right here in our community, you're supporting our economy and you're supporting your neighbors,” she told MTN News. “You know the food that we have here locally at the farmers market hasn't traveled thousands of miles and passed through a lot of different hands, it's coming directly from the field right to you at the market."

Non-agricultural products typically sold at the market can be purchased on their new website. People can go online from Monday through Thursday and pre order those items for pick up on Saturday.

In-Person Shopping

Customers who choose to shop the River Market in person on Saturday should be prepared to comply with its stringent new procedures and expect a more pragmatic experience and layout in response to health directives related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

People can expect marked changes to the experience and are strongly recommended to send only one family member to shop to avoid crowding.

The changes include:

  • There will be only one point of entry and exit from the Market, on Pattee Street. Customers will not be able to enter or exit from beneath the Higgins Avenue Bridge, from stairs off Higgins Avenue or from the Riverfront Trail.
  • Entry and exit will be controlled on a strict one customer in, one customer out basis.
  • All customers will be required to wear face masks in order to enter and shop at the Market.
  • Customers will be directed to maintain a minimum 6-foot distance between themselves and others at all times. No groups will be allowed to gather.
  • Vendor stalls will be laid out in a single “snaking” line with booths facing one direction and additional space between them. This pattern will be familiar to anyone who has shopped at an Ikea.
  • Customers will be directed to move through the Market single file in a one-way circulation pattern. Customers will not be allowed to backtrack to return to a vendor.
  • Customers will be directed to touch only the food they are purchasing and only after completing the purchase.
  • There will be no meat vendors, prepared food or beverages, live music or other activities.

All Market staff, vendors and volunteers will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to the start of each market, and handwashing and hand sanitizer stations will be available for customer use.

Vendors will be required to separate food-handling and money-handling tasks. Employees handling food will not be allowed to handle money, and only one employee per vendor will be allowed to handle money.

Customers will be strongly encouraged to follow social-distancing measures such as staying home if they feel sick, washing or sanitizing their hands frequently, only coming to the Market to purchase food, and not touching any food except the food they have purchased.

River Market Customer Code of Conduct and Required Rules of Engagement:

  • STAY HOME if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick.
  • Make a shopping list before visiting the Market.
  • Use online ordering/curbside pickup if possible.
  • Designate one shopper per household.
  • Masks required for admittance.
  • Adhere to on-site signage and regulations – the Market will be enclosed and all perimeters will be marked and secured.
  • Maintain 6 feet of social-distancing space at all times, and comply with physical cues and directional markings.
  • Shop quickly and efficiently.
  • Enter and exit only at the official, marked entrance, moving single file in one direction through the Market.
  • One customer in, one customer out rules apply and will be strictly enforced.
  • Wash and sanitize hands frequently using the provided hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.
  • Be a responsible customer, expect delays and be patient and kind.
  • Don’t congregate in the open spaces surrounding the Market.
  • Keep Missoula safe and supported.

Online Ordering and Curbside Pickup

The Clark Fork River Market’s new online ordering and curbside pickup program is an alternative to purchase local food and support vendors while remaining safe in your vehicle. Market organizers note that the more shopping customers do online, the more it helps minimize crowd size at the market.

Orders can be submitted and paid for online and will be available for curbside pickup on the lower level of the Bank Street Parking Structure near the Market’s Pattee Street entrance.

  • Orders must be placed by noon on Thursday for Saturday pickup each week. For example, orders placed by noon Thursday, May 21, will be available this Saturday, May 23.
  • Pickup is Saturday morning between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
  • Follow all posted vehicle directional signage to smoothly drive-through and retrieve groceries.
  • Delivery may be available in special circumstances.

Market staff have streamlined the online ordering/curbside pickup program with the following improvements:

  • Online credit/debit card payment is required. There is no need to make payment when picking up.
  • Customers will not have a designated pickup time. All orders will be available for pickup at any time between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Saturday.
  • Curbside pickup occurs lower level of the Bank Street Parking Structure, accessed the using marked entrance on Pattee Street.