By Kendall Fields
A little rain never stopped anyone living in Eugene, Ore. from going outside or from going downtown on a Saturday to shop at the Saturday Market.
That was the case this weekend, as hundreds of Eugenians came to the Saturday Market on the Park Blocks, cornered at 8th Avenue and Olive Street, despite wet weather. The market, which started up again on April 3, has increased the vitality of the downtown area, drawing hundreds of people to the area while its in session.
On Sunday, May 9, vendors and market goers, alike, are gearing up to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this Eugene attraction. There will be an anniversary party for the market on the Park Blocks, complete with a potluck, photos and live music.
The first Saturday Market was held on May 9, 1970. Even the rain on that day didn’t stop people from coming downtown and shopping at the market. It was a place where local artisans could sell their work to the public. When the market started, there were 29 vendors. There are now over 150 vendors that sell everything from fresh produce from local farms to wind chimes made from recycled silverware. Local musicians and other talents perform for anyone who will listen, on the stage in the center of the park, on the edges of the market square and beneath every tree. For the last four decades the market has been a place where people could celebrate the heritage and artisanry unique to the Eugene area.
The market season is something Eugenians have come to look forward to.
Kathy Peterson has been coming to the market for the past decade. Peterson said “I love being able to come down during market season and see old friends. It’s a real tight community here. It’s a magical place.”
And the market has has not lost its charm for first-time goers.
Nineteen-year-old Andrea Armstrong spent her first Saturday at the market walking around with 3-month-old son, Elijah, snuggled up tight on her chest in a Bjorn baby carrier. “I can’t believe I never came here before,” Armstrong said. When it started raining, Armstrong found shelter underneath the tents in the dining section of the market. One woman was generous enough to give up her seat so Armstrong could sit down and keep dry.
“I was surprised how nice people were,” Armstrong said. “And a little rain won’t stop me from coming back, either. There’s so much great food, interesting people and [being here] gives me something to do. It’s like a glimpse into the culture of Eugene.”