If at all there were ever a designated place worldwide for lesbians to convene, I’m pretty close to positive that it would be the local downtown Farmer’s Market.
If I were to argue that our mother ship is Portland, I would continue to illustrate how it gave birth to little women bearing Birkenstocks and multiple forms of hemp clothing and accessories. They trekked across the Western United States and were dispersed throughout the country. In our case, those brave, strong women marched through Oregon and southern Idaho and settled in Salt Lake City to colonize a mini version of Portland.
Every Saturday morning they assemble at their headquarters, the Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park.
Live music animates the crowd – sounds of blues guitar are steps away from some sort of organ machine, which is around the corner from a didgeridoo. The savory scent of fresh produce, kettle corn, and barbecue hovers in the air, radiating in concentric circles surrounding the park. The produce is fresher than any supermarket – nowhere else have I seen such strikingly vibrant-colored fruits and vegetables.
With no exaggeration, everyone is friendly. Strangers wave and smile at other strangers with the same kind of amiable attitude I see among hikers acknowledging each other on a mountain trail. It’s a pleasant social event even for our canine friends, who sniff away at each other with delight.
People of all shapes and sizes, and from many walks of life, enjoy the bustling excitement amidst the cool, morning air. It’s one of the events that bring throngs of people downtown, yielding the rare impression that Salt Lake City actually is, at times, a real big city.
I have been so lucky as to attend such a gathering almost every summer week for the past nine years or so. I have fond memories of the distinct Farmer’s Market smell floating across the street and seeping through my bedroom window, the best possible way to be woken early on a Saturday morning.
It’s one of the more approachable events to attend. Unlike a concert, bar, or restaurant, having a companion or a posse with me is the least of my worries. It’s the kind of place people can very comfortably attend by themselves just to people-watch, or to bring their friends for a group affair.
I make sure to always visit some of my favorite vendors.
The booth with pulled pork barbecue sandwiches has been at the Market for as long as I can remember. During peak hours I’ve seen the line for their famous barbecue reach upward of 25-30 people at a time. Squeeze Me has, year after year, provided regular strawberry, blueberry and watermelon versions of the freshest lemonade in the West. There’s a booth that provides fresh fruit smoothies, with a man on a stationary bike who generates the electricity to power their blender. Included in the more than150 vendors there are always merchants with products unique to the Farmer’s Market – things like homemade honey, handcrafted jewelry, handmade leather accessories and the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen. Among the local artisans and growers, the henna tattoo booth is always fun for adults and kids alike. And of course I shan’t fail to mention QSaltLake’s own Brad Di Iorio holds down the fort at our booth with his inimitable Italian grin toward passers-by.
Ultimately, I suppose one of my favorite attributes of our local Farmer’s Market is that it is a place where I can feel at ease among other almost-granola-hippie-types who also live an alternative lifestyle.
Hoping to be among other women with similar interests can get mundane very easily when frequenting bars and clubs. It is a satisfying contrast to those places where everyone is done-up and overdone, and the dim lighting is oftentimes less flattering than one prefers.
Unlike the nightlife scene, no one is trying to impress, everyone is fully coherent, and something about the morning sunshine accentuates most everyone’s best characteristics.
I would venture to say that the Market it is the one place in Utah, surpassed solely by the Pride Festival and maybe a Melissa Etheridge concert, that guarantees other women “of our kind” in attendance. Furthermore, said women are always fresh faces, which is something that I have quickly grown to appreciate. It brings about women in a more relaxed state, enjoying a stroll around the park, in their regular clothes, in their more natural surroundings. It evokes the kind of refreshing optimism that can only be exceeded by the exuberant laughter of an infant child.
The Downtown Farmer’s Market is located at Pioneer Park on 300 South and 300 West from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Saturday until October 22. Visit downtownslc.org/farmers-market for more information.