Sunday morning, overcast and uncharacteristically warm for a mid October day. Single lane highways enclosed by trees every shade from red to yellow brought me to the quaint but busy town of Rhinebeck, just 30 minutes north on Route 9 from Poughkeepsie. The sidewalks bustled with pedestrians carrying bags overflowing with fresh produce. By some small miracle a parking space emerged on the street adjacent to the day’s main attraction, The Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market.
Tucked away in a lot between an old brick building and colonial homes, the market contained roughly 25 vendors, their tents forming a U-shape at the back of the lot. As you enter, the aroma of baked goods and the sounds of folk music and meat cooking flood your senses. Artisanal cutting boards, specialty cheese, and oh-so-many apples are the first things to attract your gaze as you walk through the crowded space. Organic produce overwhelms the space with fruits and vegetables splayed out on every other table taunt your taste buds and will power.
With each bakery or farm stand I passed, a certain presence or rather “vibe” began take shape. After talking with a few of the vendors and observing others shop the market, this vibe became as clear and bright as the peppers in the picture above. This was no ordinary farmers market, providing locals with necessary food to sustain their families, but a place of leisure, craftsmanship, and community. After buying a 3 dollar apple and an 8 dollar quiche about the same size as the apple, I got the feeling this market attracted a certain demographic of people. Looking around whilst enjoying my investments, I noticed maybe one or two people near my age but the rest where either young families or people anywhere from 45 to 70. Although hard to tell by appearance alone, there was a slight distinction between those I perceived to be locals and those I saw as tourists. Split almost evenly, these groups constituted the bulk of the customer base while the majority of the vendors appeared to me much younger, late twenties to mid thirties. I spoke to a vendor of hard cider and distilled liquors, below, who told me many of his customers where either from the city or neighboring towns with a few consistent local buyers. A popular destination no doubt and a destination for those seeking the finer side of the renowned and plentiful Hudson Valley.
Overall, the market was wholly a showcase of the fine goods from regions around the Hudson Valley, centering in Rhinebeck which has become a hub for such amenities. Coffee shops, rustic yet clean restaurants, and boutiques contributed to both the attraction and warrant of Rhinebeck as the location for the farmer’s market. The essence of the bounty of the Hudson Valley, maybe a slogan for the market, maybe not.
Regardless of who was buying what from where, I felt very comfortable amidst these Sunday market goers. Each vendor I spoke with was personable, very generous with their sampling, and outwardly happy to be entertaining my interest in their products. Those I passed in the narrow channel between tents were pleasant, busy wrangling their children, or like me, simply enjoying the space and the vibe it emanated.
Also here’s me enjoying a box of strawberries I bought while leaving.