Background, Culture and History of the Eugene Saturday Market
By Spencer Schloss
The smell of roasting peppers, the sounds of local violinist and guitarist, and the scene of hundreds of people finding local crafts and produce can only be described by one local event, the Eugene Saturday Market.
Crowding the city center next to Municipal Park, every Saturday from the first week in April through mid-November, community members flock to the stands in Downtown Eugene where local vendors sell their homemade and homegrown products. Currently in the 42nd year, with the winter season upon us, the Eugene Saturday Market has now started to transition into the holiday market, which takes place at the Lane County Fairgrounds. The Saturday Market has been a staple of Eugene since 1970 after local residents wanted to see an increase in activity in the community.
Today, the Saturday Market features approximately 150 vendors each Saturday as they set up shop so local residents can buy, browse, and taste local products. The sight and sounds of local residents singing and dancing to local musicians, make the Market come alive in the downtown Eugene neighborhood. Also, the smell of the local cuisine captures patrons to try the delicious delicatessen the local restaurants have to offer. The Eugene Saturday Market is far different from any local market that most cities have. “We have developed a successful model of a public marketplace where the artist and local producers can meet the customer face to face with who they sell their products to,” says Beth Little, General Manager of the Eugene Saturday Market.
On Saturday the market starts at 10 a.m., but some vendors start to set up shop at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for the rush that quickly approaches when the market opens. The market features local food, music, and is a great place for residents to hang out with friends and families. The Eugene Saturday Market is also very close to the city’s transportation center, the Eugene Station, and provides patrons many available spots for bicycle parking. “The Market is very close to campus. My roommate and I love to come to the Saturday Market each week and get some food from the India House, their Chicken Yakisoba is delicious,” says twenty-two year-old senior Matthew Schneider.
The Market began after a large increase increase in buying local crafts, produce, and need to revitalize the downtown neighborhood. Local Potter, Lotte Streisinger, attended a Worlds Crafts Conference in Peru and decided that Eugene needed something to help change the marketplace for local goods. After the Mayor agreed to start the Market a committee was formed and a site was suggested. The Saturday Market first opened on May 9, 1970, with a volunteer coordinator and 29 vendors. Each vendor was charged $1 to cover expenses. After reviewing the first Saturday of the market, the City Council extended permission for use of the site through the summer. The Market is now located at Park Blocks at 8th and Oak as the Market saw an increase in vendors over the year.
There are about 600 members in the Saturday Market along with new members joining every year. Also, most local vendors come back year after year, but there is a change of about 25 percent more vendors every two years. “At first local businesses were worried that their businesses would be affected, but as times past businesses started to see the advantages of meeting the customer face to face,” says Little. Local businesses have seen an increase in sales since they started selling every market. “The Market has helped us bring in new customers, especially since most of our food is sold wholesale,” says James Elstad, employee of West Coast Seafoods.
The Eugene Saturday Market is the longest running, weekly street market in the United States. Also the city of Eugene owns the name Saturday Market in the State of Oregon, but allows other markets to use the name, for example the Portland Saturday Market, points out Little. Currently, the Market features sixteen local eateries in the food court each week and has over five hundred members who sell jewelry, produce, and other goods. Each week there is also are local bands who perform in front of live crowds, which helps boosts the spirits of local residents at anytime during the Market. The Market has already started to improve by disallowing the use of plastic forks, making transportation easier, and bringing in more local business. However, the Market closes from the last Saturday before Christmas to the first Saturday in April due to weather conditions and conditions of produce. “We are looking to keep expanding over the next couple of years and help the community grow even more in these tough economic times,” says Little.
For a complete history of the Eugene Saturday Market click here
Beth Little writes a weekly newsletter about the Eugene Saturday Market
Q & A with Beth Little, General Manager of Eugene Saturday Market
By Spencer Schloss
In 1970, when the market started, there was a fear that the Market would detract from the local merchants. However, over the years as the market moved from our initial home in the alley near the Downtown Athletic Club , to the Courthouse Plaza, to the Butterfly Lot and then to the Park Blocks (in 1982), we learned a lot and matured as an organization. The City of Eugene watched us be mindful of our opportunity to do private commerce on public property by caring for and cleaning the space we used. Local businesses watched their sales increase on Saturdays, as the Eugene Saturday Market became a destination. Today, we are a stable and self-sufficient established part of downtown.
2. What motivates you to get more vendors or local artists out to the Saturday Market?
The Eugene Saturday Market is finishing our 42nd season. We have developed a successful model of a public marketplace where the artist and/or local producer can meet the customer. The artist learns from the interaction and begins to quickly and directly meet the customer’s needs. Items that are unsuccessful do not make it in the marketplace. Other designs succeed. It is the education of this direct interaction, which is a key motivation. The primary goal is to take the artist out of the studio and into the marketplace to be profitable.
3. What are some current projects or improvements your staff and you are working on for the Market?
We have added quite a bit over the last few years. We purchased new tents and installed anchors in the concrete in order to make them as safe as possible and relieve the Saturday Market staff the burden of transporting concrete weights. We disallowed the use of plastic forks and purchased many metal forks, which we have washed each week in a local restaurant and make available to our food booths. We have a contract with the city to manage the food carts and activities downtown. We are in negotiations to manage the plaza on Saturdays to highlight its Free Speech aspect while keeping it safe and family friendly environment.
4. What is the goal of the Eugene Saturday Market?
Saturday Market is a Oregon non-profit organization whose mission is to provide a low cost marketplace for local handcrafters and artisans and a weekly celebration for the Eugene community. The Saturday Market helps local businesses sell their goods and products and for the last forty-two years to the community. These local businesses help get their name and product out to the local community and University of Oregon students.
5. What is an average week like for you as you get ready for the upcoming Saturday Market?
I deal with a lot of artist interaction and lots of committee meetings. I also deal with contract negotiations, budgeting and bookwork, and then preparing for another market the next week.
The best part of the Eugene Saturday Market is the eccentric and independent, artistic, opinionated and overarching community of the Eugene Saturday Market. The Market happens every Saturday from April through mid-November, which gives the community plenty of time to come out and check out the local businesses.
7. What are some interesting facts a lot of people might not know about the Eugene Saturday Market?
A lot of people might not know that this is not just any market. This is the Eugene Saturday Market. It is a kind and intelligent group of like-minded people who while creating artwork, also create a framework to make an economy. It is precious.
Profile: David Clark, Owner of Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company
Local vendor bringing foreign treat to Eugene Community
By Spencer Schloss
As hungry patrons patiently wait at the local stand to be served, they can smell the fresh ingredients from behind the counter being wrapped into a warm piecrust. Unlike typical street food we find here in the United States, the warm treat being prepared is a pasty. It’s a handheld pocket that traditionally contains potatoes, onions, turnips, and minced beef. In 2008, David Clark, a former University of Oregon student, brought this traditional British treat to Eugene after starting the Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company.
Clark, the owner of Cousin Jack’s Pasty, decided to start the company with his wife, Kim, to showcase the fresh ingredients provided by local Eugene farmers and also to bring a treat to Eugene that is usually only served in Britain. “Pasties started being served during the 1300’s in battles when the soldiers needed something quick to eat or in the mines where miners needed something easy to eat while being stuck underground,” says Clark. Growing up with a love for food, Clark always knew that he had a passion for food retail and the cuisine that his mom showed him from their heritage.
After working for a construction company and then a biofuel company, Clark found a way back to his true passion of food. “I’ve always been into food, especially food retail where I worked in restaurants from four star to smaller Route 66 cafes, but somehow I always enjoyed the food retail side,” says Clark. After meeting his wife at the biofuel company Clark decided to start the pasty business since he always enjoyed food retail and his wife had a background in the food processing business.
Since starting the company, Cousin Jack’s has grown into a USDA approved food-processing business, which also features a local stand at the Eugene Saturday Market and a cart right behind the Duck Store on 13th and Kincaid. “We are open Monday through Friday and we serve everyone who is interested in trying a different type of food than they normally do,” says Clark. The local cart near the UO campus has expanded the company to reach the mouths of hungry college students. “I tried the pesto lamb pasty and you could really taste the fresh ingredients from the local farmers like the feta cheese and pesto sauce,” says Eugene resident Jeff Reed.
Pasties are not commonly known to most people in the United States, but is starting to have a much bigger appeal to local residents especially at the Saturday Market. “The Eugene Saturday Market is great for us because it allows us to grow as a business and put a face on are product rather than selling our food to distributors,” says Clark. Since 2009, Cousin Jack’s has been serving pasties at the Eugene Saturday Market even to people who are familiar with the delicatessen. “It’s always great to see tourists visit from England and Australia where pasties are popular since we have all different flavors than you typically see in those countries and to see those peoples faces and excitement makes this all worth it,” say Clark. With more publicity and direct sales, Cousin Jack’s has been able to keep a steady profit and prides itself on its facility. “Our facility is USDA inspected as we have USDA workers working in our facility making sure the products coming out of this facility are high quality,” says Clark. With USDA workers the facility is operated everyday very tightly to ensure food safety rather than a monthly checkup like most facilities receive.
Cousin Jack’s Pasty Company provides itself on using local farmers products to help support the local economy. “We use ingredients from local farmers up in Brownsville and other cities. We want to help support the regional economy and by doing this we can help other local business succeed,” says Clark.
Clark prides himself on being a fanatic on the history of pasties and as he says for any new people who want to try pasties. “Pasties go back to the days of Shakespeare, who referenced them in some of his plays, in the lives of the knights of the Round Table, and now you can try one right in your own backyard”.
Profile: Linda Shumate, Owner of PremRose Edibles
Local chocolatier bringing love and organic chocolate to local residents
From far away it looks like a stand filled with homemade jams and biscuits, but by venturing closer towards the stand customers see a working, sixty-one-year old mother of three giving away countless amounts of free chocolate samples to hungry and intrigued customers.
Linda Shumate, who was born in Wyoming has now resided in Oregon for the past thirty-two years, is the owner of PremRose Edibles, an organic, hand-made chocolate, jam, and syrups stand infused with rose petals. Shumate has worked with food throughout her life after gaining experience in the industry and traveling various parts of the world she decided to start her own business. “I took the two products that I had been making for almost 30 years and worked on formulas for those that would be unique in the market place. One product is chocolate but more importantly for me, are my rose petal confections which at this point do include some white and dark chocolates but my favorites are my rose petal jams and a new chocolate rose petal sauce,” says Shumate.
PremRose Edibles is based out of Creswell, Oregon, but Shumate has been coming to the Eugene Saturday Market and Lane County Fairgrounds for the last four years to showcase her chocolates and truffles to the community. “The market allows me to be in front of people from all over the world who like to take our products home as special gifts from Oregon, especially the Rose Petal Jam,” says Shumate. As customers approach Shumate’s stand she greets them with a sample of her homemade chocolate. Shumate says her passion for food, especially roses and chocolates, comes from her customer’s reactions. ”I love to make foods that uplift people and make them happy. That is what this company is all about, especially since Prem means love in the Sanskrit language and these are foods to share with people you love,” says Shumate. At every market new customers are finding out about the business and the products. “I just started buying the chocolate from Linda and its amazing, magical, orgasmic,” says Randy Craft, a forty-six-year old resident of Eugene.
While growing her very own roses and using organic farming methods for her products, Shumate has also made PremRose a family business. Shumate’s husband Erik is a custom wood worker, who helped build a wooden wheeled vending cart of local hardwoods so that his wife could use it to sell her products at the Farmers Holiday Market. Erik also hand makes cutting boards, which are also sold at the stand. Shumate also has three grown children who all have been involved in the growing of the business. “My husband and my family have been the most constant support in my life and we have worked together to build the business,” says Shumate.
In the future, Shumate would like to see her business simplified and start expanding slowly. “I want to start online sales of one of our jams and of the chocolate rose petal sauce. I am trying to keep it simple and streamline my production methods and grow slowly,” says Shumate.
However, for now Shumate still expresses her love for food and her business to local customers. “Someone recently tasted the jam and said, ‘this is like a smile in a jar’ which is why I love doing what I do,” says Shumate.
Survey: Looking at the Eugene Saturday Market
By Spencer Schloss
After surveying eighty-seven people the results showed whether or not these people had attended the Eugene Saturday Market, their gender, and why they had attended the Market(food, art, jewelry, other products). Out of eight-seven people, 46 were males and 41 were females. Here are the results:
Have you attended the Eugene Saturday Market?:
Why did you attend the Saturday Market?:
Why have you not been to the Eugene Saturday Market?:
Multimedia: The Eugene Saturday Market in pictures