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Mayapple Marketplace at Ijams goes virtual

The annual event attracts hundreds of visitors, so organizers decided it was safest to move the market online.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ijams Nature Center has a big weekend ahead as paddling season kicks off at Meads Quarry on Saturday with equipment being sanitized between each use.

But one draw to the center each spring is moving online. 

The Mayapple Marketplace, a farmers market-style event, attracts hundreds of visitors each spring. Originally scheduled for mid April, organizers pushed it back to Memorial Day weekend before ultimately deciding it was safer to shift to a virtual platform. 

"The problem is there are just too many people that attend, which we absolutely love and we cherish their support, but safety is our first concern," said Sarah Brobst, Visitor Services Manager at Ijams. 

As a consolation to the many participating vendors, Ijams Nature Center's website has a virtual Mayapple Marketplace with links to all of their individual online stores. 

"Hopefully, they'll be able to see the whole gamut of what (businesses) can offer like custom orders, delivery services, and stuff," Brobst said, encouraging people to visit the virtual marketplace to support local businesses that have been hurt by the pandemic.

RELATED: Ijams Nature Center to start reopening facilities on May 9