& We’re Still Escaping…

Because there are never enough reasons to make farmer’s markets YOUR hobby, too. Let me continue to do my part in attempting to entice you into my realm…

10- Chicago, IL- 61st/Dorchester St. – I stumbled into this street market during a work weekend at the University of Chicago. The picture with this post is what I experienced. I happened on it as it was kicking up for the morning that particular Saturday. I did not walk away empty-handed leaving with a jalapeno cheddar loaf of bread in one hand and three main dish dinner pies in the other. All of it was delicious. (This street market is the image on the first post)

11- Brevard, NC – The setting of this farmer’s market in Brevard is quaint and low-key in a small town way.  It’s set barely a block off the main shopping strip and is near a writer’s dream type of coffee cafe across the street. This small town setting captures your heart with the utter cultural relevance of the vibe here with all of it’s silent slow-the-heck down and savor-the-moment mojo. This is a small, but mighty farmer’s market and one of the fun finds here were the micro-greens. Nobody every has enough micro-greens! Don’t lie. Admit it. You do not have enough of them!

12- Paducah, KY –  Another one of my unexpected favorites. During a weekend to the Superman festival in Metropolis, IL, We landed across the bridge at the Paducah farmer’s market Saturday morning. We had no idea what to expect, but it was a superb mixture of Mother Earth’s bounty, delicate handiwork straight from the hands of artisans present right there with you at their tables, and some serious soft southern charm. The wine and whiskey-scented handmade soaps were wild fun. The woman who’s passion was making cake made my weekend sweeter with one piece of her strawberry lemon creation. The woman selling tomato plants won my heart with her sincere demeanor AND her vast knowledge of tomato history. I think I purchased six different heirloom tomato plants from her determined to become a master tomato grower her love of tomatoes was so infectious (and they were only like 50 cents a plant!). One more mention I don’t want to forget was the music. We are getting down into Bluegrass country in this area and that music was a beautiful example. It was clearly a multi-generational family on a variety of instruments including a lap-style steel guitar kind of hurdy-gurdy deal and it was so cool I STILL can’t get it out of my head and this farmer’s market stop was one year ago. I MUST go back to this one soon.

13- Springfield, MO – I loved this market for two specific booths that stood out to me. A young woman was making jewelry there and had such a variety in price and presentation and her booth layout was so pretty in her youth, I never forgot it. Plus, the married couple who make leather wares together was really cool to see. Apparently, he made the leather pieces and she painted on them.  I still love the $100 purse I brought home.

14- Bettendorf, IA – Big and beautiful and it was along the Illinois River.  This farmer’s market is the kind you’d see as the happy accident run-in between two love interests in a Lifetime movie. It was pretty and there were lots of colorful veggies and beautiful flowers. This was my most distant memory and writing this is a reminder to myself – I need to visit this one again!

15- Mendota, IL -The absolute highlight of this small town display is a little boy who makes model airplanes from various wars. My son LOVES his booth. Plus, he makes his hard work so affordable. He has been there every time we’ve gone and we’ve purchased a handful of his creations. His knowledge and passion for this work is a precious thing to experience. He makes this morning adventure even better than it already is because you found yourself at a small town farmer’s market! I challenge you to go to this farmer’s market and NOT buy something from him. I bet you can’t do it.

16- Memphis, IL – This experience had one of the most real and down-to-earth community vibes as I watched a musician actively interacting with kids there to keep them occupied as parents walked around and a booth offering fancy egg options taking orders one by one to please their customers.  There are several farmer’s markets in a community the size of Memphis and I have no doubt each has warmth and the same sense of community with some to spare. Next time I go, I want to do more focused farmer’s market hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood.

17- Riverside, CA – Tamales and White Peaches…I hardly have to say any more. I could have survived the entire next week on those special finds there alone. This market is set in the downtown where the Colonial Spanish-style architecture mixed with more contemporary approach give this southern California farmer’s market a mix of old and new that is, frankly, gorgeous. The desert palms don’t hurt one bit.

18- St. Louis (Soulard), MO – An old mainstay – one of the oldest and most well-known in the country is the Soulard Market. It’s a mix of about everything you could imagine and is serious business in a warehouse-district next to a park and quaint historic shopping area. Meat on a stick, mini-donuts, and Saturday morning Bloody Mary’s seem to be the most popular items when I consider what I see people consuming on their strolls through each time I’ve gone. You can definitely make a day of this experience. I have many times! The 5-star Yelp BBQ restaurant across the street is an added highlight. You’re welcome.

19- Muncie, IN – This is my most recent jaunt. It was suggested to me while I was at a writer’s conference at Ball State University. I had no expectations walking in and… OH…MY!  This is in my top five, so far. It’s in a type of park district/fairgrounds area, so it’s set up for the experience pretty well. I’m not sure this one can have enough parking, because however much parking it has, I’m sure would be filled up – this market offers so much. It sits next to a bright and cheerful garden-type shop with a courtyard and outdoor seating area that could easily add an extra hour or more to your visit. It’s well-landscaped and smartly laid out to capture the connectedness of all the vendors by placing everyone around a large central shade tree.  It was impressively affordable, interesting, and had a different type of variety than I’d seen before. For instance, I walked out with a $10 log that sprouts Shiitake mushrooms for culinary use in my kitchen. Never in a million years would I have guessed I’d have found such a marvel. Flower arrangements IN containers – beautiful and affordable – $5-10. The vegan bakery offering simply awesome vegan burritos definitely put a skip in my step. I also never thought I’d see lemon, orange, or apple-flavored pickles, but this market had them and I purchased them and what a treat. There was a booth selling plants that were so reasonable and special to see, it was all I could do NOT to buy them all. No music at this one and I forgive that, because of ALL of the farmer’s markets I’ve been to – ever – this one was like looking at Pinterest pics walking by every single booth. It was simply lovely. I’d go back in a heartbeat. (This market is represented in the image on this post easier to see in full on the full blog landing page.)

Farmer’s markets are awesome.