The Market of Smiles

Saturday, June 17th, was the first installment of Appleton’s outdoor Farmer’s Market.

Over 150 musicians, sponsors and vendors selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, clothing, arts and crafts, and more.

This is the market’s 25th year on College Avenue, extending four blocks, and including half a side street and Houdini Plaza.

From the Farmer’s Market Coalition:

“Over the years, the market has evolved from a parking lot space of 30+ vendors to moving onto our newly renovated College Avenue in 2002 with an expansion of 50+ vendors, to now….150+ booths. 

Due to the proximity of Appleton museums, we are thrilled to be able to offer programming in Houdini Plaza, with fun and creative art and music projects; from music instruments turned into art mosaic pieces to juggling, square dancing or even Irish dancing demonstrations.

The market hosts 5-6 musical acts each week, separating them throughout the event, so all do well. Henna art and face painting are available on site. Our indoor (winter) market hosts “Kids Market” on the 3rd Saturday, January through May, inside City Center Plaza. There, we offer the kids a chance to sell their handcrafted items, giving them a free space, with table and chair, to give them a sense of running their own business and being young entrepreneurs. The idea was suggested by another local artist/mom who had seen it in another state, and five years later, we continue to promote this program, as well as offer other fun kid friendly activities on that day.”

I don’t believe I’ve seen anything but smiles or expressions of contentment from the people that wander the outdoor farmer’s market. After what seems like six months of winter around here, Appletonians (and Wisconsinites in general) are ready to be outside in the sun and warmth. We had both on Saturday, along with a bout of late spring humidity, but no one seemed to care. I saw many with a slushee in hand to beat the heat.

When I go to the farmer’s market, I have specific vendors that I will visit. They either sell organic produce and/or meat, or they have a gluten-free, dairy-free treat. I promise the latter is good. How could it not be when the business name is Happy Bellies? Their almond cranberry scones are delicious, even to someone like myself who is not a scone fan.

Park Ridge Organics provides my summer salad garden, from red leaf lettuce to fresh pea shoots to yellow beets to cilantro to tomatoes to many other wonderful summer vegetables. Nami Moon is my stop for organic chicken and ground pork, and occasionally duck eggs as a treat. (If you’ve never had duck eggs before, I encourage you to try them. Yes, they are more expensive than store-bought eggs, but they are so rich and delicious. It’s worth the extra cost.)

The Appleton market is one of the biggest in the area, sizing up to markets in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Madison. The Farmer’s Market Coalition does what it can to keep vendors returning year after year, such as not having an over abundance of one type of vendor. They want the vendors to do well and to keep shoppers coming back every week for more of the good stuff.

On Saturday, I had to check out the entire vendor line-up because it was the first market of the year. Many of the vendors are familiar to me. The people that sell hot, buttered roasted corn can always boast a line of hungry shoppers a mile long. The restaurant that brews its own beer is present, selling soda instead of suds. Two area farmers act as the bookends to the market. One can stumble across the goat cheese stand, the dog/cat treats stand, the frozen fish and seafood truck, and the warm chocolate chip stand. Much to see, buy and eat.

I have a few photos for the gallery, but it was difficult to take many given the number of people and the arms and legs that got in the way. Click on each photo to read the descriptions.

I would be open to taking orders for the next farmer’s market, but remember that this is a place that requires your attendance. So, if you are in Wisconsin this summer, take a drive to Appleton one Saturday and enjoy the food, produce, ambiance and smiles.

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24 responses to The Market of Smiles

  1. dweezer19 says:

    We love Farmer’s Markets. Buying plants, pottery, wooden bowls and fresh honey number among my favorite treats! Looks like a beautiful day. So happy for you to get out and about, Mary!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Your comment reminds me I must look for tupelo honey next time. It’s my favorite! I bet you enjoy farmer’s markets all year around…or do you have an off season?

      • dweezer19 says:

        Pretty much non stop although certain things may not be as available during the Winter months.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    That sounds like such a wonderful place to “shop” Although with names like “Happy Bellies” I’m not sure it’s shopping. We love fresh veggies, and until our garden starts to produce, we shop at a few farm stands that we like. There’s a farmers market in the neighboring town that is sometimes open as I drive home from work. I may have to check it out.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Yes, there is plenty of happy eating going on during the market. I think some people come only for that. 😀

      • Dan Antion says:

        A couple of times, while on vacation, I have eaten at a farmer’s market. Once, during a business trip to Philadelphia, I ate lunch that their huge indoor market, but not at one of the restaurants. A little cheese, a little veggie, a little fruit…and like that.

  3. Hard not to smile with that dazzling sun!
    Big news for our small town – a new market is opening in July – I’m looking forward to that.
    Have a good week, MJ.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m excited for your small town, Maggie. I hope you find plenty of good things when it opens. 😃

  4. loisajay says:

    I love Farmer’s Markets! When we go out of town on the weekends, I always look up the town to see if they have one–most do. And so we pack the cooler!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      That’s a great idea to take the cooler along, Lois. You never know what you might find in the way of perishable food items.

  5. Aunt Beulah says:

    How lucky you are to live near such a marvelous market, and how I would like to be able to do the same; but my little, isolated town in ski country with its short rowing season can’t muster a market. Count your blessings!

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    Outdoor markets are a winner just about everywhere. I love browsing around and peeking at all the offerings. Throw in a sunny warm day and you’ve got a perfect recipe for crowd happiness 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I imagine there is a decent-sized market or two in Toronto during the summer. I was happy the morning was nice…we’ve had so much rain lately!

      • Joanne Sisco says:

        hmmm – now you have me thinking. I don’t know anywhere in the city where there is a weekly outdoor market during the summer. Now I’m going to have to start investigating.

  7. joey says:

    Isn’t that charming?
    I had THE BEST farmer’s market in Georgia. It was on Thursdays, and I went in the evening, and we’d buy all sortsa things and I got terribly spoiled. I miss it, I do. I miss the jam lady most. Now, I say she’s the jam lady, but she also sold me eggs and cream and she made fresh cordial cherries and we ate them right there, cool and sweet on our hot tongues.
    *achem*
    Sometimes there’d be a barbecue truck there, Sho Nuf BBQ, and we’d get dinner as well. Good times!
    Here, farmer’s markets are for morning people, which we know I am not. I am very excited because we are getting a New one, a Closer one, and it runs until 7pm on Thursdays. I shall go and report back when I finally get a Thursday night to do so. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      The Georgia market sounds yummy. I suppose they also had the real tree-ripened peaches there. The ones that are so juicy, you need a roll of paper towels to clean up with afterwards. Mmmm…

      • joey says:

        Oh yes, Mary, yes. And I could get a bucket of them for $3-4. Nine cents a pound most of the year. Peach pie, I made in Georgia all the time. Peach pie here? $$$ lol No!

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Yeah, $$$ and the fact that they aren’t the same when shipped north to the frozen tundra.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      The trick with the bigger ones is to get there early, before the mob shows up. It’s more relaxed and easier to look at everything.

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