Madrid, Spain is home to the impressive Plaza Mayor, New York City is known for the iconic Time Square, and Saint Petersburg, Florida has its own place where people enjoy gathering. It appears early in the morning, and each week the city looks forward to The Saturday Morning Market, located in the heart of Downtown St. Pete at 100 1st Street SE, as it blossoms into the place to be on Saturdays.
This spectacular version of a Farmer’s Market began in 2002 and by the fifth year it became the largest in the Southeast United States. (I heard it was “huge,” but reality set it when I saw it in person for the first time. It extends on for numerous city blocks).
How can any ol’ market be so special? The steering committee strategically chooses each vendor and entertainer because they believe the selection of vendors is of utmost importance. In any one given year, the market receives over 200 applications and the committee does a marvelous job at curating because they are expecting quality and have a great sense of what blend of merchants allow the market to continue to succeed. Each vendor must provide a good or service AT the market to be considered – no banks, lawyers, insurance sales allowed (thank goodness!!). Mickey, owner and founder of Mickey’s Organic Cafe, always has a smile and friendly greeting for you, plus his all-natural cookies and macaroons are to die for!!
There is a mix of full time and part time vendors with the intention that market-goers will experience a variety each week, while enjoying staples of the Saturday Morning Market. There are several delicious food trucks offering their yummy menus, including the best tacos in St. Pete by St. Pete Taco Lady (Colleen Travers – truck above) and Maggie on the Move with her warm smile, and bright red truck and her fresh Mediterranean fusion cuisine!
To say the least, Saturday Morning Market is much more than a shopping experience. As you stroll passed the booths full of fresh local fruits and veggies, unique crafts, gift-worthy art pieces and more, you will also encounter an unbelievable mix of entertainment. Perhaps you may tap your toe to a talented musician playing the accordion, currently the amazing Nick Boutwell, be amazed by a magician, or mesmerized by giant interactive soap bubbles! Of course, there are excellent local bands on stage that are chosen carefully by the committee and you may even experience a brief performance by the St. Pete Opera or a beautiful A-capella performance by Eckerd College students. Plus the fabulous, twirling Hoola Monsters are always so delightful to watch!
Artist and designer Mark Noll is most always surrounded by the ladies oohing and awing over his jewelry (poor Mark), as his rare products created from up-cycled material are so beautiful and quite affordable!
Little Pond Farm, grows arguably the tastiest carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and well, just make sure to get here earlier than later on Saturdays as their organic produce goes fast!
Beyond what attendees experience at Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Pete, the magical way that the market supports the vendors is a key piece of the social experience of market. The vendors truly become part of the community when participating by receiving coaching from the steering committee and assistance from other merchants. For example, if a new vendor has arrived in the wee hours of the morning and is fumbling with putting up their tent on the first day, there is no doubt that other vendors will step up to the plate and help them out! That is the perfect example of how there is an appreciative community present amongst the vendors that molds a positive foundation for the customers to enjoy when they arrive.
Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Pete is a place that speaks to creativity, fun, and connection. The entire experience truly creates joy as you run into old friends and meet new folks! Come and be surprised and delighted every Saturday morning 9 am – 2 pm October thru May.
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