The start of the Freight House Farmer’s Market’s outdoor season has become such a celebrated event that it warrants an opening ceremony. Organizers have hired a band and everything!
The Davenport farmer’s market is active year-round, with an indoor facility for the winter months. The area is fortunate this way, with access to locally-sourced items for 52 Saturdays a year. But Saturday, May 5 will see the first day of the outdoor market. There will be an influx of vendors – and just in time! Your Cinco de Mayo menu demands fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. You’ll also find wines and meads, flowers, household products, and one-of-a-kind artworks.
Get it all at the Freight House Farmer’s Market, with their regular year-round Saturday hours between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., plus additional summers hours: Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Even if you don't spend a lot of time in your kitchen, there are plenty of reasons to stop in at the market throughout the season. Live performers, for example, flock to the Freight House (which itself is on the National Register of Historic Places). The St. Ambrose Marching Band and Orchestra will open on the morning of the fifth, but the market welcomes musicians of all genres throughout the year. You never know what you might find.
Bring a date and make a day of it. Vendors like Nostalgia Farms have paninis and sliders (made from their very own free-range livestock) for sale, so you don’t have to fret about shopping on an empty stomach. Other healthy snacks and prepared dishes are available at various points in the season, often made using ingredients that come from the vendor’s own backyard. It’s the perfect time to try some new foods and maybe even pick up a couple of recipes.
Your pets can get in on the fun, too. Organizers welcome dogs with enthusiasm. Seriously, the website refers to them as “furbabies.” (Note: Dogs are not allowed into the indoor portion of the market. Thanks, Health Department.)
It’s easy to see why this market has developed such a following, attracting volunteers from across the state. Designated as a 501 charity organization, the board of directors is always looking for more help, from event management to customer assistance to hauling crates of fresh peaches. Visit their website for contact information.
The best time to get involved is during huge events, like the last day of the 50th Annual Ragbrai on Saturday, July 28th. Approximately 20,000 participants will cross the finish line in Davenport, all in need of food and drink. Many will head right to the market. Apparently, a lot of bicyclists prefer to eat healthy, organic foods. Go figure, right?
If a few thousand sweaty bikers don’t do it for you, definitely look into helping out with the market-sponsored kid’s art contest. It’s open to anyone from kindergarten to fifth grade, and the winner is entered into a statewide competition with a $350 grand prize. That's like a million dollars to an eight-year-old.
This year’s theme is “Made It Here!” All artwork should be submitted at the Quad City Visitor’s Center (open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) by Friday, June 1. See the Freight House Farmer’s Market website for details.
Come to Downtown Davenport throughout the summer, get involved in your community, and see what a farmer’s market is supposed to look like.
All photos courtesy of @kristinjean67