A year in and the Food Market at the Ex seems here to stay in a big way.

Fredericton’s market scene was put through the wringer by the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest blow arrived early into New Brunswick’s first lockdown in March 2020, when the longstanding Northside Market announced its permanent closure. The announcement came as a shock to both vendors and regular customers of the location, which proved popular for its various food vendors.

In the year since the Northside Market’s closure, there have been continuous ups and downs. The Boyce Farmers’ Market struggled to manage crowds in its tight space, with many long-time vendors being forced to spread out (or only operate on a rotating schedule) to ensure social distancing.

We’ve also seen the opening of the downtown Cultural Market, a microcosm of Fredericton market culture. The Cultural Market’s success shows demand for market food throughout the week, as opposed to the weekend-focused schedule generally employed. 

But the Food Market at the Ex is the closest in spirit to the former Northside Market, featuring many of the former location’s most popular food vendors, along with some new faces. Located at the Fredericton Exhibition grounds off of Smythe Street, the location is excellent for commuters and convenient for those walking from downtown. 

This past Saturday, as I approached the market grounds, it was impossible to mistake the location’s popularity. The parking lot was jammed full of cars and lines of socially distanced people who wormed their way toward the booths in the spaces between parked vehicles. 

According to the owner of my long-favourite market vendor, Zensations, “It’s very busy. Business has been very good. The new booth gives a lot more privacy.”

All the vendors – except one food truck – are located within private booths, repurposed from the outdoor vendors from the former Northside Market. The outdoor location and the space between booths allow for plenty of social distancing space.

And the abundant space was most certainly needed, as many Frederictonians were out and about enjoying the warm spring weather. If COVID-19 cases stay low and the weather stays good, the crowds suggest a bustling summer for the city.

Former vendors from the Northside Market include Dan’s BBQ Sausage, Zensations, Street Greek, and Country Fried.

Other vendors include Cook Wi A Cook, Korean Kitchen, Tan Bueno, The Dog House, J’s Asian Kitchen, Big John’s Spiral Potatoes, and the Ginger Beef Food Truck.

Open Fridays (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.), Saturdays (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.), and Sundays (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.), the Food Market at the Ex offers plenty of tasty takeout food, no matter your preference.