The Fresh Outdoors: Farmers’ and Flea Market Shopping

By Angela Bristow

Looking to do something different this summer? Why not get into the spirit of the season by visiting a local outdoor farmers’ market? Or get out in the fresh air and score a bargain at an area flea market?

Small-town farmers’ markets are popping up all over the area. The Lehigh Valley even has bragging rights to being the home of the oldest outdoor farmers’ market in the country. The producer-only Easton Farmers’ Market in Centre Square at Third and Northampton streets began in 1752. The Market runs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May through the third Saturday in November. From the last Saturday in November until the last Saturday in April the Market runs indoors.

New this year, the Easton Farmers’ Market will be starting a Wednesday market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., June 5 through September 25. The Wednesday market is sponsored by Weyerbacher Brewery in Easton and will feature 20 vendors unique to the Wednesday Market. They’ll have craft beer sampling that will be tied in with meals prepared by area restaurant chefs and information on pairing meals and craft beers.

With approximately a dozen festivals throughout the season, live music each week by local musicians, and the Little Sprouts Activity Tent, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy.

“We work hard to have a full-service market,” said Megan McBride, Market Manager for the Easton Farmers’ Market. To that end, the 34 vendors at Saturday’s market carry a full selection of raw milk, artisan bread, gluten-free bread, baking flours, natural or organic produce, and prepared meals, including vegan meals. Shoppers can also find crafts, handmade soaps, cut flowers, vegetable and flower plants, and local honey and maple syrup.

“We have a market chef program sponsored by St. Luke’s [University Health Network]. One to two times a month a chef from our participating restaurants comes in and prepares a meal with ingredients purchased at the market,” said McBride.

The Easton Farmers’ Market runs rain or shine.

On the other side of the Valley is the Emmaus Farmers’ Market held in the parking lot of National Penn Bank (formerly KNBT) at 235 Main Street. Its eleventh season started in May and will run Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, through the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The Market has reduced hours during early winter.

“We are very much focused on the local aspect to it. It goes side-by-side with the neighborhood idea and bringing in the community groups. It attracts both those that drive to the market each week and those that walk, too. It’s a neighborhood market,” said Daniel Paashaus, Market Manager for the Emmaus Farmers’ Market.

“We have smaller farms within a 75-mile radius, and we always have some sort of live music and community groups and various non-profits. Approximately once a month there will be chef demos and giveaways,” said Paashaus.

The 100-percent producer-only Emmaus Farmers’ Market features a number of vegetable farms, three meat farms, two cheese vendors, two bakers, and a number of prepared food vendors.

“It’s very family friendly and dog friendly,” said Paashaus. “I always have sidewalk chalk out for the kids and the music is family friendly.”

Renninger’s Antiques and Farmers Market, 740 Noble St., Kutztown, is an antique and collector paradise. In addition to their Friday indoor Farmers’ Market, on Saturdays during the summer up to 100 dealers set out their wares in Renninger’s pavilions.

“The flea market is such a fun thing because of the thrill of the hunt. You can find just about anything,” said Jim Renninger, Co-owner of Renninger’s Antiques and Farmers Market in Kutztown. If you’re looking for a specific item, he says a vendor with a similar item can often help you find it.

Additional outdoor farmers’ markets to check out include the Bethlehem Farmers’ Market at Lehigh’s Campus Square at New and Morton streets on Thursdays through October 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the Saucon Valley Farmers’ Market at 95 Water Street in Hellertown on Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through November; and the Macungie Farmers’ Market at Macungie’s Memorial Park on Walnut Street on Thursdays, June through October, from 4 to 7 p.m. (except August 22).

Other Lehigh Valley outdoor flea markets include the 31st Street Outdoor Flea Market at Weil Antique Center, 2200 31st Street SW, Allentown, Friday to Sunday starting at 8 a.m. through October 31, weather permitting; and the Kutztown Flea Market along Route 222/Kutztown Road in Fleetwood, held Friday to Sunday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. through November.

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