MA Road Trip: This Piggy Goes to (Madison) Market
In his 2004 article, the now-deceased New York Times correspondent R.W. "Johnny" Apple described the Dane County Farmers' Market in Madison, Wis., as "a honey of a farmers' market."
I disagree. The Dane County Farmers' Market is the Mac Daddy -- no, scratch that thought -- it's the Mac Mama of all farm markets.
For years, I have wanted to experience a Saturday morning at the largest producer-only farm market in the country, but I really had no idea my mouth would be hanging open in awe and amazement. I felt like I had died, gone to farm market heaven and met La Terra Madre.
I had arrived just before 8 a.m, and the market was already well underway, 200 hundred-some producers and their canopied stands dotting the perimeter of the state capitol building. By 9 a.m., the capitol square (a certifiable square city block) was wall-to-wall people waking up to the day, some with coffee in hand, others wheeling strollers. From stand to stand they strolled, filling their reuseable bags with local corn and beans, early apples and late raspberries, cheese curds, bison and rainbow trout. With the sounds of violins and fiddles and washboards filling the air at nearly every corner, the market felt more like a party than a mercantile exchange.
Along with the celebratory, easy-going vibe (no rushing, pushing or badmouthing to be seen or heard) was a serious intensity with a higher purpose: This was the time to stock the weekly larder, an important and regular part of the routine. It might feel like a party, y'all, but there was important work to be done. This duality may just be the most magical thing about Dane County Farmers' Market -- these people take their food shopping (and selling) seriously, but have a great time doing it.
Below, a sampler of visuals, which tell the story....
P.S. I'll be back -- and I already can't wait.
This morning, I'm headed to Des Moines, where I'll be checking out the Iowa State Fair and teaching a cooking class.
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Posted by: Southern Gal | August 11, 2008 2:13 PM
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