The hidden market: The Downtown Farmer’s Market at Ancestor Square
ST GEORGE – If there were a list of St. George's best kept secrets, the Downtown Farmers Market at Ancestor Square would be on it.
Each Saturday morning, May through October, the Courtyard of Ancestor Square comes alive with the Downtown Farmers Market. Few people know it exists whish is a shame too, because there's much more to it than one may expect.
"We promote local produce, vendors, and musicians," said Terry Young, the Farmers Market manager. While the market emphasizes providing the community with an "outlet for organic produce," as remarked by event cofounder and coordinator Nicki Richards, it also affords a venue for many locally owned and produced goods and crafts. Local musicians also play in the background, soothing the ears of vendor and patron alike as they participate in the Farmers Market.
"We draw from all over southern Utah," Young said, referring to the plethora of vendors with varying goods. Attendees to the Downtown Farmers Market can expect to a surprising assortment of items. Such items include, but are by no means limited to: breads, candies and fudges, cheeses, clothing, plants for gardening, jewelry, specialty items for pets, soaps and lotions, and various handicrafts. Market-goers with a taste for foreign delicacies will be happy to see booths featuring authentic Danish and Pakistani foods.
Some of the local musicians featured at the Downtown Farmers Market include the Pine Valley Mountain Girls, Sundogs, and Still House Roads.
Now in its third year of operation, the Downtown Farmers Market at Ancestor Square was the brainchild of Nicki Richards and her husband, the owners of "The Painted Pony" restaurant. "Having the Painted Pony really gave us the idea," Richards said and explained that the restaurant had a practice of using organic, locally grown produce as a part of its menu. This spawned the idea of sharing the local bounty with the community in the form of a farmers market.
"Every great city has a farmers market," Richards said. She also noted that another purpose of the Downtown Farmers Market was to promote the downtown area of St. George and help bolster the local economy. As a general rule, goods featured and sold at the Downtown Farmers Market are produced by people living in the southern Utah area. As such, money spent at the Market helps to support local farms and businesses.
Unfortunately, the Farmers Market remains out of sight and out of mind to the community at large.
"We're struggling to get the word out," Richards said. She then noted that, since the Downtown Farmers Market itself is a non-profit community project, there is a very limited budget for advertising. People that do know about the Market generally learn about it through word-of-mouth.
"We're so hidden here," Young remarked. An appropriate statement given the fact that the Courtyard at Ancestor Square is unseen by passersby because of the buildings that surround it. Young also observed that, if more people learned about the Downtown Farmers Market, then they could have "twice as many vendors and people."
The Downtown Farmers Market at Ancestor Square is definitely worth a visit for the individual or the entire family. One can enjoy good music, good food, and a great atmosphere overall. In Richards own words: "It's a great place to come."
The Downtown Farmers Market is held each Saturday from 8 AM to 12 PM in the Ancestor Square Courtyard, and runs from May 8 to Oct 31. Additional Information can be found at: http://ancestorsquare.com//business/downtownfarmers.php