“What makes the farmers market such a special place is that you’re actually creating community around food.”
– Bryant Terry
A farmers market on a warm summer day flirts with the senses.
There’s something satisfying about feeling the weight of the potatoes, just pulled from the dirt, in your hand. You learn forward to watch shimmering water droplets dance on the frilly edges of the lettuce, as flirty as the ruffles on a skirt.
There’s magic in the scent of the still damp earth that gathers in the corners of the produce boxes, the tang of dill and the sweet softness of freshly cut flowers. There’s beauty in the shiny green peppers and rich, red tomatoes mounded high on tables under a clear, blue sky. You savor a spoonful of delicate wildflower honey, the giggles of children, the sun on your shoulders.
Taking in the atmosphere is as much a part of the farmers market experience as what you buy. Red River Market in downtown Fargo is one of my favorite markets for both selection and atmosphere. It’s not as big as some of the markets I’ve seen, but it has such a lovely vibe.
Red River Market is large enough that you can find a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods, jellies and sweet, rich, local honey. But it’s small enough that your feet won’t get tired and you can get to know the vendors. You’ll probably even recognize lots of your fellow shoppers. Most of the vendors come back week after week and many of the customers are regulars.
It’s a gathering place for foodies, farmers, chefs and food enthusiasts. The conversations and connections happening all over the market are almost as important as the shopping taking place. The market itself is a largely volunteer-based operation and it definitely has that friendly, small town feeling.
Plus the vendors at Red River Market offer lots of little extras that I totally didn’t know I wanted from a farmers market until I had them…and now I don’t want to let them go. I’m talking about handmade creations from indie crafters so I can do a little gift shopping while I’m out, killer coffee from local shops and a wide range of samples to try, everything from bread to scones to locally produced wine.
If you’re hungrier than that, there are several food trucks and kiosks if you want to stay for lunch. The last time I went, I saw friends trying everything from chicken tacos to African dishes.
There’s patio seating so you don’t have to balance your plate on your lap (bonus) and live music going on to enhance the atmosphere. Did I mention you can grab a cold one at Brews on Broadway, a pop-up taproom featuring beer from Fargo Brewing Company? Seriously, how do you beat that?
Oh wait, I know — alpacas. Yep, kids of all ages (including yours truly) are encouraged shop, eat, grab a drink and then spend a little quality time with these cuties.
As an added bonus, the market is right in downtown Fargo at the corner of Broadway and 4th Avenue North. Once you’ve purchased your produce, flowers or handmade goodies, you can just stroll down the street and keep shopping at dozens of small boutiques, shops and galleries in the pretty, walkable historical district.
If you want to keep eating, you can do that too. Downtown Fargo boasts plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you occupied.
Getting to the Red River Market is easy. Free parking is available in the City of Fargo and US Bank Parking lots on Broadway and 3rd Avenue North and there’s plenty of 90 minute street parking available. There are also extra bike racks brought in for the event and lots of folks arrive on foot.
Or you can hop the free, Link FM bus that runs from downtown Moorhead to downtown Fargo. Or you can download a free bus pass here and score a complimentary ride to the market from your house or hotel.
The Red River Market runs every Saturday from now until October 29 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you can make it to Fargo, I encourage you to make it part of your downtown experience. It’s a great addition to the neighborhood and a lovely way to while away a few hours on a Saturday.
What about you?
What’s your favorite part of visiting a farmers market? What do you like to buy there? What do you think of Red River Market? What’s your favorite farmers market in your neighborhood?
Red River Market
Broadway and 4th Avenue North
Bus: Route #11 or Link FM
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