After a strong season and unusual summer, the West Tisbury Farmers’ market will extend its outdoor market through the end of October, pending approval from the West Tisbury selectmen, market managers confirmed Friday.

Venerable market moved for the first time this year to the Ag Society fairgounds. — Jeanna Shepard

The market, a summer staple on the Island, has been running Wednesdays and Saturdays on the fields on the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society since June.

In a summer rife with change, the market traded its usual location at the Grange Hall for the more spacious Ag Hall grounds, a social distancing measure that has proved hugely successful, market co-manager Collins Heavener said. The market also instituted several all-new health and safety guidelines, like mask-wearing and one-way foot traffic, to keep its customers and its 39 vendors safe throughout the season.

Despite all the changes, however, business at the market has been booming, said Mr. Heavener, noting the customers surging through the grounds by the hundreds, weekend after weekend.

“I would summarize [the summer] as an overwhelming success,” said Mr. Heavener, speaking to Gazette by phone. “The farmers’ market is an institution. People really love it and want to support it.”

Mr. Heavener and market co-manager Olivia Rabbitt also attributed much of the market’s success to the spike in demand for local food and farming brought on by the pandemic.

Market co-managers Olivia Rabbitt and Collins Heavener. — Jeanna Shepard

“We were seeing that people were less comfortable going to the grocery stores and they had started immediately out the gate they were going to farm stands,” said Mr. Heavener. “The majority of our vendors’ numbers financially are up.” If the trend continues, he is expected a potentially strong shoulder season as well.

This week the market hosted its final Wednesday of the season, reducing the schedule to one day a week as the summer crowds begin to thin. In past years, September has marked the last leg of the summer season. Normally, the market has transitioned to its winter format indoors at the Ag Hall after Columbus Day and run indoors until Christmastime.

But with no signs of relief from the pandemic, this year the managers will forgo the market’s indoor format, extending the outdoor season an additional three weeks instead.

“We had a long conversation this year among the vendors, the committee, the managers, about whether moving indoors was a smart, safe, practical thing to do given the circumstance and health environment,” said Mr. Heavener. “The short answer is we have decided that we have a great model working outdoors.”

After Columbus Day, the plan calls for the extended market to run on Oct. 17, 24 and 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Market managers and vendors are also considering extending into November, weather and interest depending, said Mr. Heavener.

An array of health and safety measures were enacted at the newly configured outdoor market. — Jeanna Shepard

So far the extension has been approved by the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals, which issued the market’s special permit to operate on the Agricultural Society’s property this summer.

The proposal also needs approval from the West Tisbury selectmen, who took up the request at a meeting last Wednesday and are expected to vote at their next meeting this week. The Vineyard Conservation Society, which holds a conservation restriction on the property that strictly regulates use on the Ag Society grounds, will also confer on the matter, Mr. Heavener said.

With cooler temperatures on the horizon, a record total of 26 vendors have already pledged to stay on through the extension period. “Our tagline is rain or shine . . . We’re farmers, we’re a hardy bunch,” Mr. Heavener said.

With an eye towards the future, Mr. Heavener said the market looks forward to continuing to serve the Island community into the fall.

“We’ve been so well supported from our, year-round, summer and shorter-term residents here,” he said. “We hope that we can continue to do a good job of serving them.”