I was responding to a Facebook post by an unhappy customer and it became a long letter, so I thought I'd just make it an open letter. It's not the first time a pet parent has been caught off-guard at our Market, and it's probably not the last.
As a more general notice, if you ever have complaints or concerns about something that happened at our Market, please come see me (I'm there every market day, wearing a red and white polka-dotted lanyard), send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or PM me here. If you can't find me or don't know what I look like, ask any vendor.
-- Kelly Phipps, Market Manager
Hi XXXXXX -- I'm sorry you had such a negative experience at our Market. I understand you have very strong feelings about your pets. I also understand how an outdoor setting seems like the perfect place to take your pets with you, and that you had to find out about our "no pets/live animals" policy only after you arrived. If it's any consolation, we turn away pets probably 4-6 times every Saturday. (Service animals, on the other hand, are welcome as long as their owners have them under control.)
As far as letting people know that our market is not pet-friendly, we've tried everything to do just that and to prevent the kind of situation you experienced from happening. It's on our webpage (https://www.laplatafarmersmarket.com/faq), on the Town's webpage (https://townoflaplata.org/farmersmarket), and is an FAQ on our Facebook page (it pops up if you click on "Send Message" button). It used to be on our Facebook page under "Our Story," but it looks like that feature has been removed, so I'll be sure to add the major market rules to some other place on our Facebook page. Instagram doesn't provide us another space to do that in the profile page, so I'll try to figure out some other way to add that there, as well.
As far as broadcasting our policies for every market day, well...if you were trying to create a welcoming atmosphere at your home, I feel like reminding your guests of all the things they can't do every time you invited them over would be the opposite of welcoming. That's why we put the four sandwich board signs up, but also why we don't put signs up all around the market perimeter. Those yellow "please keep your mask on" signs are obnoxious enough, and enforcing rules -- not just pets/live animals but smoking, alcohol, masks, and social distancing -- is absolutely the least enjoyable part of a market day for me, my volunteers, and the Market vendors.
If you scroll through our feed (Facebook, Instagram, or webpage blog), you should find one about a broken record. I tried to cover all the major rules there without sounding like a law enforcement bot, but when it comes down to it, we're (me, my volunteers, and the vendors) are all doing what we have to in order to comply with market, town, county, state, and even federal codes and guidelines so we can stay open and keep operating. Frankly, it's exhausting.
So thank you for writing in to let me know that there are gaps in our communication. I will do my best to plug those holes without being that curmudgeon who shakes their fist and tells kids to get off their lawn. And I hope you'll find a way to support local business in your own way, either at other area farmers markets, farm stores, or at brick-and-mortar local businesses. We're all doing our best under the circumstances.
La Plata Farmers Market
PS I'm going to save you a little bit of trouble and let you know that Town Code prohibits pets at any Town-hosted event, including the summer concert series (when those come back) and events like Celebrate La Plata. If you plan on taking your pet anywhere, you probably want to check the pet policies for your destination before you go -- some of the local parks, for example, have different rules than other parks.