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Public gatherings return to Great Bend
Several events held in Jack Kilby Square
farmers market Dugas family
The Great Bend Summer Street Stroll Farmers Market opened Thursday, with vendors in parking spaces on the south side of the courthouse on Lakin Ave. Brigette Dugas and her children sold soap that they made during the corona virus shutdown.

A peaceful protest Wednesday in response to the death of George Floyd was the first official gathering in the Barton County Courthouse Square since COVID-19 restrictions were announced in March.

That 90-minute gathering brought anywhere from 60 to 100 people the square. It was followed by the return of the Summer Street Stroll Farmers Market on Thursday and the Golden Belt Humane Society’s Adopt A Pet on Saturday.

The 2019 novel coronavirus is still with us – Pawnee County reported its first two confirmed cases this week – but June started with the easing of restrictions. 

The Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo reopened, and so did the playground equipment in the city parks.

Even as people begin to gather again in public, there are noticeable differences.

Some, but not all, of those attending downtown events chose to wear face masks and/or attempted social distancing. Instead of setting up tables for the farmers market inside the park, vendors worked from parking stalls along Lakin Ave. This was done to promote social distancing, said Katelyn Sigler with the Barton County Health Department.

A Facebook page, GB Summer Street Stroll Farmers Market, allows vendors to add information about ordering items in advance. That page also shows information for how low-income seniors can apply for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (see related story, below).

The farmer’s market featured fresh vegetables and honey, but there were also vendors selling baked goods, flowers, and in the case of Brigette Dugas and her children, homemade soap. “The kids and I made them over the quarantine,” the Great Bend photographer said.

Adopt A Pet

The Adopt A Pet group usually sells food and brings animals to a public event once a month. But their regular venue, Orscheln Farm & Home on 10th St., is not having public events because of the pandemic. Heather Acheson at the Golden Belt Humane Society said they decided to try a downtown event.

“Now that we’re out in the community, our shelter is open to the public too,” she said. The shelter at 151 South U.S. 281 opened at noon Saturday. It is now open for business from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday but adoption hours are limited to 1-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

A couple of restrictions will remain in place, Acheson noted:

• You must be 18 or older to visit unless accompanied by an adult.

• If you are not feeling well or have been sick with a fever, please stay at home.

• Face masks are optional, you must bring/wear your own.

• Please limit the size of your group visiting to three and you must stay together when visiting.

1409 Williams St. 

Although it’s not a city-sanctioned market, the Great Bend Public Library parking lot at 1409 Williams St. also had a few vendors set up for business Saturday morning. Sellers are usually in the parking lot from 8 a.m. (or earlier) to noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“We just come on Saturdays,” said Debbie Zink, overseeing a table of jellies and other items.

Some vendors were at the Street Stroll on Thursday and the library on Saturday. Sheila Smither helped Robert and Carolyn Roth, selling organic radishes, rhubarb and beets, along with bierocks and Cajun pies. It’s a little early for produce, so some of the regulars weren’t there, she said.

Smither also had a stack of handmade cloth masks for sale for $1 each. She said she’s made over 800 masks using mostly donated material. She’s delivered hundreds of them to the Russell hospital, a nursing home and a hospital at Lincoln, and to St. Rose and Clara Barton in Barton County.

adopt a pet kilby square
A volunteer walks a dog from the Golden Belt Humane Society, Saturday during an Adopt A Pet event in the courthouse square.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program taking applications

Once a year, low-income senior citizens age 60 and older may apply to receive seven $5 checks, totaling $35, to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs from authorized farmers at markets such as the Summer Street Stroll. Barton County is again participating in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

A household with one individual is eligible if the person’s monthly income is not more than $1,968 ($454 per week). The maximum income for a household of two people is $2,658 per month ($614 per week) and the maximum income for a household of three people is $3,349 per month or $773 per week. For each additional household member, add $691 per month or $160 per week.

Applications are available now. For more information call the Barton County Health Department, 620-793-1902.

The Kansas Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is coordinated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.