A harvest of food and fun at South Shore Farmers Market
August 1, 2016
Set against the majestic backdrop of Lake Michigan, South Shore Farmers Market has been a favorite Saturday morning social spot and stop for fresh local produce and prepared food. This year, the market’s 17th season, there are new vendors, along with some long-time favorites.
Angie Tornes, a SSFM committee member and one of the market’s original founders, said there are 43 vendors this year selling produce, flowers, coffee, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, and prepared artisan foods.
New this year is Happy Dough Lucky, a doughnut vendor, Pete’s Pops, maker of frozen fruit confections, and Ernie’s Popcorn.
Ernie’s takes the place of Cowboy Kettle Corn, best known for its proprietor and barker Doug Gutenkunst, who prepared batches of kettle corn in a large cast iron pan. His enthusiastic, “Yee-haw, kettle corn!” was bellowed to the clanging accompaniment of a chuck wagon triangle. Tornes said Gutenkunst ended his contract this year and added that she recommends Ernie’s.
Since the market began, organizers have stuck to their decision to focus on vendors that provide food products and to exclude craft vendors like those who sell soap or art, for example. The committee also limits the number of vendors selling the same product to prevent market saturation.
Tornes said that in the second half of the season the market offers a multitude of vegetables and fruit, baked goods, beef, bison, chicken, and eggs. Rushing Waters Fisheries, a trout farm in Palmyra, Wis., sells trout and fish-based spreads.
“We also have some vendors selling unusual veggies, garlic scapes, and things you can’t find everywhere,” Tornes said. The market features several farmers that grow using organic methods. There are also cheese and coffee vendors.
“Rocket Baby was new to the market last year and they were incredibly popular,” Tornes said. They’re back again this year offering baked goods.
Other long-time favorites include River Valley Ranch & Kitchens, selling specialty mushrooms and LOTFOTL who sells produce (Live Off the Fat of the Land). Wild Flour Bakery is another favorite and has been a vendor since the market’s first season. St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care sells homemade jelly and butters and also offers homemade bug repellent and some wellness items. It is the only vendor permitted to sell products that are neither food nor flowers. Tornes said the toiletries are just a small part of what St. Ann offers at SSFM and that they were grandfathered in so they could sell what is normally not allowed.
To help improve pedestrian flow, market a new layout was designed. “We relocated several of the vendors away from an area that was really getting pounded down by foot traffic,” she said. “We rearranged vendors to ease exceptionally long lines that impacted others, giving the park a chance to breathe.”
In July market organizers performed a count during a market day and logged 1,200 attendees by 10am. Many young families attend. Parents tell Tornes that their children can hardly wait to get out the door on Saturday mornings to get to the market and see their friends. “The parents enjoy being with each other, too,” she said.
SSFM is within walking and cycling distance for many in Bay View, who are often seen walking or riding from the park with bags overflowing with leafy greens and flowers. Tornes said she also talks to many people who live outside of Bay View who regularly attend.
Tornes’ husband Mark Budnik lines up the musicians and entertainers. The popular Fox & Branch duo is booked for August. They perform children’s folk and family songs.
Other highlights include the Philomusica String Quartet and the Bay View Middle & High School Marching Band. The August through October schedule offers an eclectic mix of jazz, Native American sounds, blues, and Americana.
Tornes and other market volunteers have known some of those who attend the market since they were infants and children when the market began 17 years ago. Some are now old enough for internships at the market and others have graduated from high school or college. The interns help setting up and taking down tables and tents.
This year Brigid Globenski is chair of the volunteer 10-member SSFM committee. Ann Hippensteel and Chad VanDierendonck are the market managers.
The South Shore Farmers Market is held each Saturday from 8am to Noon. It runs through October 15 in South Shore Park.
2016 South Shore Farmers Market Vendors
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
Clock Shadow Creamery
Cream City Swirl
East Side Ovens
Flower Petal Farm
Happy Dough Lucky
Heritage Flower Farm
Madame J’s Sticky Fingers Jams & Jellies
Mai Lee’s Market
Nye’s Big Sky
River Valley Ranch
Rocket Baby Bakery
Rushing Waters Fisheries
St. Ann’s Center for Intergenerational
Sunflower Ridge Farms
West Allis Cheese & Sausage
Wild Flour Bakery
Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.
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