The Great Falls Farmers Market has become more and more well-known and popular since it first began more than 40 years ago.
The market is organized and managed by a combination of non-profit board advisors and input from the local community input. The affair is a familiar sight during high season when it fills the streets of Downtown Great Falls with over a hundred vendors on a Saturday.
The market continues to broaden its vendor resumes and offers a variety of fresh produce from local and other state farmers alongside arts and craft-themed items and exhibits.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Great Falls Farmers Market, including the history behind the event and the various activities.
Guide to the Great Falls Farmers Market
The Farmers Market in Great Falls is now largely considered the biggest and best family-friendly market in the entire region. That said, it’s not uncommon for visitors from the world over to be spotted here.
The History behind the Farmers Market
It’s not that far back in the minds of some residents of Great Falls when folks grew much of their own food. This came by way of garden vegetables, orchard fruits, grains, and livestock in the pastures. They also would have hunted deer and fowl in nearby forests, and fished in the abundance of ponds and streams.
Locals old enough to remember may be likely to tell stories related to the origins of what is today the market if they are prompted. These go back to the 1970s with the Hutterite Colonies selling their produce door-to-door. Eventually, a handful of these colonies took to setting up occasional stalls in the region of the civic center.
Bylaws were adopted in the early 80s that resulted in the setting-up of the non-profit trade association managing the market today. The market initially began on the north side of the civic center before extending its reach into Whittier Park on the facility’s southern shoulder.
The number of vendors grew with the rapid rise in popularity of the market which saw further expansion onto Park Drive and the ‘Downtowner Lot’ across the street.
The market has had various tweaks and re-shuffles over the years but has retained its original purpose and vision which was to ensure a vibrant village center where friends and family can meet and greet while they stock up on fresh and healthy, locally-produced wares.
Today the number of vendors in attendance surpasses 150 as the market continues to retain, if not extend its popularity.
The Main Features of the Farmers Market
The non-profit market features a wide and diverse array of vendors that is now in excess of 150 and includes products and displays from farmers, artists, and entertainers such as musicians.
Visitors will find intriguing displays of handcrafted items and accessories aside from the huge range of food items. This includes everything from baked goods, crepes, honey, and preserves to chicken-on-a-stick and plenty more.
Another joy of the market is the array of eat-as-you-go food on offer as well as the fact that the vibrant and lively atmosphere is added to by the entertainment like the musicians or the pony rides going on in and around the vicinity.
Several more organic produce vendors have recently joined the ranks of the market. This comes on top of the existing range of fresh and readily-prepared foods to cover virtually every angle of specific dietary requirements including traditional, paleo, vegetarian, or vegan-style options.
On top of that, there are grass-fed meats and free-range farm produce featuring the finest and naturally-produced ingredients. AND there are lots of healthy snacks to enjoy as you go.
You can check out a more extensive and detailed list of the vendors HERE.
The music that occurs frequently if not constantly at the markets helps express the vibe of various seasons and get-togethers like the festive season or thanksgiving.
In today’s world of the ‘Mega-Mall’ or even online consumerism phenomena, places like the farmers market in Great Falls hold even more appeal to anyone seeking authentic experiences.
Here is a place free from mass consumerism or middlemen where farmers, bakers, chefs, artisans, and other blends of craftspeople come together in true community spirit.
The musicians play for tips only, yet you will likely find everything from string bands to karaoke sounds to fiddlers and Celtic Harpists showcasing their skills at the market.
Accessing the Farmers Market
The Great Falls Farmers Market is seasonal and typically starts to get rolling around the time of early June.
It runs from the first Saturday of June through the last Saturday of September, from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm in the Civic Center Park in the Downtown Great Falls region.
The Bottom Line
The Great Falls Original Farmers Market is one of the few markets left in Fairfax County that is not county-sponsored.
It thus represents an authentic aspect of life in the region that continues to blossom and enhance the sense of community in Great Falls.
The items made available follow the same line as they always have—healthy and delicious, locally-produced food and other genuine and diverse items are unlikely to be found in the average mall.