This article is the third in a series that illustrates why we choose to stay in the Madison area. One of the most important reasons is the Dane County Farmer’s Market (DCFM) that is held every Saturday morning from April until early November on the Capitol Square and in various inside locations during the winter months. There is also a Wednesday market on MLK Boulevard in the downtown area. Since we moved to Madison in 1987, we have attended almost every Saturday morning market (when we are in town!). Again, it’s one of the joys and benefits of living in Madison.
The DCFM or Market began in 1972 as a way to bridge the gap between city and rural people and provide a convenient way and place to purchase fresh vegetables and fruit. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the top ten producer’s only markets in the country. It is estimated that over 20,000 people attend the typical Saturday morning Market and is advertised as a tourist destination.
One of the rules of the market is that products have to be grown in Wisconsin and sold by the grower and producer. In the spring and early summer, the market is alive with lots of plants and some of those early season vegetables such as spinach and asparagus. The summer vendors offer a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits such as strawberries and etc. Late summer we start to see a proliferation of cantaloupe, watermelon, and early apples. And in the fall all sorts of squash, pumpkins and more apples make their appearance. All the fruits and vegetables are supplemented by the fresh baked goods and cheese vendors scattered throughout the market. Since we are creatures of habit, we routinely stop at the Cress Spring Bakery stand for a sun bun (me) and a jammy bun (Donna) then sit on the Capitol steps to eat the goodies, drink our coffee and people watch. Here’s some photos of people enjoying their purchases.
The following are some photos of some of the plants and produce.
One of the unwritten rules of the market is that the foot traffic flows counter clockwise around the Capitol Square. Once in a while, one will witness attendees going against the “grain” but they soon figure that the protocol is to go with the “flow!” It does get crowded at times, we try to get there around 7:30 or so to avoid the main crowd that shows up around 9:30 or 10.
Over the years, we’ve patronized some of the same vendors that sell the products that we enjoy, are of high quality and reasonably priced. The following are photos of some of the vendors from a recent Saturday morning.
About half way around the Square, we usually stop for some coffee to sip as we shuffle around the market. Many Saturday mornings there are two women from the VFW seeking donations for veterans in return for a poppy. It’s usually two sisters that sit on the bench outside the coffee shop trying to attract customers, they’ve been doing this for years. On this Saturday morning, I talked with and took a photo of one of the sisters. Hope they are able to keep this up for many years!
Busking (singing, playing music or performing on the streets often for money) is common around the Square with a wide variety of performers. They all add to the festive atmosphere of the Market.
Then there is the State Capitol building that serves as the background to the Market. As one walks around the Capitol different perspectives come into view. Sometimes its the reflections in the surrounding buildings and sometimes its the building itself with different foreground and background elements. I must have hundreds of photos of the Capitol in my archives, here are few taken recently during the Market to offer you some idea of what to expect if you choose to visit.
As we leave the Market, we look down State Street towards the UW. It is said that there can’t be a physical obstruction between the UW’s Bascom Hill and the Capitol, the seat of Wisconsin government so they can keep an eye on each other! The Wisconsin Historical Museum and Wisconsin Veterans Museum anchor the head of State Street, both worth a visit.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of the Dane County Farmer’s Market and help understand why we chose to stay in this community.
So until next week, take care and stay safe!
A few parting shots!