Monday, May 16, 2011

Has the Farmer's Market become a Street Fair?

Farmer's Market, Knoxville, May 2011
I think it is safe to say that one of the things most missed by downtown residents this winter was the Farmer's Market. Once you cross over and eat fresh vegetables delivered directly from the people who grow the food, it's hard to go back to grocery store food. Just Ripe opened this past Friday (shelves are still not fully stocked, but it is getting better every day), so that will help next winter, but this was "a long, cold lonely winter."

Our favorite Lettuce Vendor, Knoxville Farmer's Market, May 2011
So, it's with great relief that it has returned. Granted, it will have a wider selection in the coming weeks, but it simply feels good to have it starting again. Various types of lettuce, strawberries, eggs, fresh baked bread, locally produced milk, cheese and meat along with plants make up the bulk of what is fresh grown and ready, so far.

Got Cruze Milk? Knoxville Farmer's Market, May 2011
But the market on its first official week was much more than a farmer's market. Maybe it will settle in to being a more traditional farmer's market in the coming weeks, but the first official weekend found a wide variety of activities, displays, products and music one doesn't necessarily associate with a farmer's market. It felt like more of a street fair.

Bagpipes at the Farmer's Market

Hair-weaves and Hula Hoops
I overheard one person asking if Knoxville was becoming more like Asheville. I'm not ready to open that can of worms, but it did feel incredibly hip, happy and generally awesome. It didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect.

String band on Market Square, Knoxville Farmer's Market, May 2011

Who knew the buskers could dance, too?
Old City Buskers doing what they do best, Knoxville Farmer's Market, May 2011
There was music spread throughout the event that included a bagpipe at one end of the fair (is it just me or are these people becoming much more ubiquitous lately?), the Old City Buskers and the couple on stilts playing the accordion. Another old time string band played next to Cafe Four and Ferd and Matt held court somewhere in the center.

Family Fair in Krutch Park, May 2011

Children's fun, just outside the Farmer's Market, Knoxville
A children's fair was set up in the Krutch Park Extension and a display of art from the Serenity Shelter was set up inside Rita's. Merchants sold soap, furniture, art of various sorts, hula hoops ($29, weighted or unweighted) and children could have their faces painted or a weave put in their hair. Of course merchants were open throughout the square and many people enjoyed brunch at outside tables and watched the parade of humanity.

Serenity Shelter art for sale inside Rita's

Ladies from a local Baptist Church who helped establish the exhibit
The crowd is interesting for its diversity, and also considering that the night before downtown had been swamped by another crowd for First Friday. I'm sure they overlap, but they also seem to attract very different groups. The same goes for Sundown this week. I love that about the city. As a resident I get to mingle with all kinds of people and get a little window into their world as they walk through and enjoy mine.
Children and Dogs abound at the Farmer's Market

Three pretty different looking dudes enjoying the same space.

If you haven't made it a practice to come to the farmer's market, let me encourage you to do so. It starts at 9:00 and for the best selection, I'd encourage you to be on the square by 10:00 AM. I like making my purchases, getting a cup of coffee from Old City Java (making it fresh at the intersection of Market and Union) and grabbing a seat - usually in the shade in front of Preservation Pub and enjoying the show. Join me some Saturday.
Ferd and Matt, Market Square Farmer's Market, May 2011

Matt and Ferd, Knoxville Farmer's Market, May 2011

Goofing on the Square, Ferd and Matt

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At May 16, 2011 at 4:21 PM , Blogger Melissa said...

Man, I missed the Old City Buskers? I love watching them on Saturday mornings. I think it's perfect to get to the market at 9 on Saturdays to watch people roll in and the action pick up. A shout out to Colvin Family Farm... we get a CSA from them and LOVE their produce!

At May 16, 2011 at 8:55 PM , Anonymous TNGEO said...

Hey, street fairs are good. The Downtown is jumping, now. Here's a little video I did on it during the last weekend of Dogwood Arts:
Just To See

Bless us all!

At May 16, 2011 at 9:10 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Hey Melissa and George,
Yes, the Buskers live and in person. I think they are down there just about every week at 9:00. It is certainly perfect to get there early. Yes, George, street fairs can be very good. This might have been the coolest vibe I've ever gotten in Knoxville. I couldn't make it this past Saturday because I had to run out of town, but I hope to be there next week. And the food will just get better and better!

At May 16, 2011 at 10:05 PM , Anonymous Greg said...

Farmers markets, street fairs, flea markets and trendy "night markets" are good for economic development too -- the minimal-overhead part-time way to start a business.

At May 16, 2011 at 10:19 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Excellent point, Greg. Evidence of that fact is Just Ripe which operated out of a trailer for several years and is now open in a permanent store-front as of last Friday in the Daylight Building.


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