I am so excited. This morning, my friend Anne and I are off to the Great Allentown Fairgrounds Farmer's Market in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
A little history:
The market was started in 1889 in downtown Allentown. The "market" was really just a street corner at 8th. and Gordon Streets where farmers could sell their produce and meat products (think live chickens folks) Later, the market was named The Morning Market and every Saturday morning, the local Amish (and not so Amish) farmers loaded up their wagons and brought fresh food to the city.
In 1911 the Morning Market moved to the newly built Agricultural Hall at 17th. and Chew Streets and was expanded to Fridays and Saturdays. The name was changed to The Farmer's Market and grew to include bakers, cobblers, and other assorted trades.
The Farmer's Market grew and prospered. It became known for good, farm fresh produce and meat products and in 1958 a new wing was added to accommodate the growing number of vendors and shoppers. At this time The Farmer's Market added Thursday's to their shopping calendar.
Today, The Farmer's Market is still the place to go for farm fresh produce, eggs, poultry, beef and pork. There are over 60 farm stands (many still Amish and Mennonite) under one roof that covers about 90,000 square feet of shopping area.
This is my old stomping grounds and I can't wait to shop the old market.
Once a year the city still hosts The Great Allentown Fair where farm kids bring their 4-H project and [hopefully] win a blue ribbon. A local butcher still buys the winning bull and you can buy that meat right there in his shop - proudly proclaiming "Blue Ribbon Winner at The Great Allentown Fair".
Good farm wives bake their best pies and cakes and enter them into contests to be judged, again, hoping to bring home a ribbon.
Every teenager in my hometown "worked" the fair for our summer money. If you didn't work it, you knew someone who did and you'd stop by their booth to buy a funnel cake, cotton candy, sausage sandwich or whatever.
The fair still has a Midway with "carnies" barking out their sale songs - but the "freak" shows of old that scared the heck out of us as kids are no longer (thank goodness). I did pay my quarter in my day to see the bearded lady, snake boy, tall man, world's fattest woman, and all other human interests.
I'm packing a cooler to bring home my stash from the market.
I'll fill it with organic, free range chicken and turkey.
Maybe a freshly dressed rabbit. (I'm NOT talking about some bunny all tarted up like a $2 hooker either)
Definitely some organic, spring lamb.
Possibly Amish made sausages.
Absolutely some pork and there's nothing like the apple wood smoked bacon the Polish butcher always has a supply of.
I will definitely save room for any and all the fresh, seasonal produce that will be available. Spring dug potatoes. More strawberries. Maybe the very last of Pennsylvania's baby lettuces.
We'll see. Oh - and don't forget the Amish mushrooms. Pearl white and plump.
It is an 86 mile drive - well within my 100 mile "locavore" range and I'll have company in the form of one of my favorite foodies, Anne.
Does anyone else get this jacked up about fresh food shopping?
You will know from future posts exactly what is in my shopping basket today.