A Few of My Favorite Things at the Winter Market
As part of the Bill Riley Talent Search I have the opportunity to meet families from all across Iowa. It is one of the things I like best about my job. It is also one of the reasons I enjoy the Downtown Farmers’ Market so much. When I go, I get to meet farmers, craftsman and chefs from around our state.
Winter Farmers' Market: November
Although the regular season of the Market was over at the end of October, I still was able to buy produce, prepared food and a holiday gift at the Winter Market in November. Now, I am looking forward to the Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market on December 16 - 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with vendors at Capital Square and Kaleidoscope at the Hub.
At the November Winter Market, I started my morning with some cavatelli from Tumea and Sons and later in the day I stopped at Nagi’s Falafel and got a gyro to take home. It’s so hard to decide what to eat, there is such a wide variety of choices from the vendors.
Winter Farmers' Market: December
One of my first stops in December will be L & L European Delights, a favorite of mine, especially when the weather is cold. I like to grab a bowl of pelmoni (it’s a thin dumpling dough filled with chicken). You can also buy frozen pelmoni by the pound to cook at home later. They are from Chariton and sell cabbage rolls, pastries and pierogies. I would also like to try some breakfast pizza from Something Italian and maybe get some BBQ to go from Three Blind Pigs. I can hardly pass by Crazy 4 Nuts without buying some cinnamon roasted nuts. I like the mix of pecans, cashews and almonds. The smell itself is intoxicating! Luckily, I can take these home and share with my kids. They love them!
I am excited to wander through and say hello to vendors I have met and see how their fall and winter seasons have gone. The beets, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, winter squash and kale are always top on my list of produce to buy. The sheer variety of winter squash available always amazes me. Sure, you can stick with butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash (and I like all of them!), but you can also talk to the vendors and find heirloom varieties that may look like acorn squash but are actually completely different (sometimes sweeter, sometimes less stringy), or try buttercup squash - I did for the first-time last fall and enjoyed it’s buttery, nutty flavor.
Finding out where vendors are from is always fun for me. At the Market, you can find maple syrup made in Garnavillo in northeast Iowa, cheese made in Winterset, Newton and Jewell, pork raised in the southern Iowa town of Derby, beef from Kellerton, produce from Grinnell, Granger and Johnston, eggs from Guthrie Center and Osceola, just to name a few.
As the Market approaches, my list of things to buy gets longer. In addition to the produce and food products, the crafts, soaps and decorations available are so fun to look at — it’s hard not to buy something from every stand! In November I stopped to look at some homemade tote bags, Christmas decorations, wooden bowls and photographs and got some great ideas for gifts (some for others and maybe one or two for me).
And, not to be forgotten, the people behind the scenes at the Market do a great job of scheduling entertainment throughout the day. I’ve even been able to see some of our Bill Riley Talent Search children perform! Make sure and take a minute to appreciate the musical talent and holiday spirit the performers bring to the Market.
Please join me December 15-16 and support Iowa vendors at the Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market. There really is something for everyone at the Market!
December features the last Winter Farmers’ Market. From May to October, find your handful of happiness at the Downtown Farmers’ Market featuring nearly 300 family farmers, bakers, artists and crafters from around the state. To learn more, click here.
Heather Torpy is vice president of the Bill Riley Talent Search. She is co-author of the book "Bill Riley on the Air and at the Iowa State Fair." A lifelong Iowan, Torpy resides in Urbandale with her husband and two children.