This summer, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market is celebrating its 100th birthday. Over the past century, the farmers market has become an Ann Arbor staple with 124 stalls open on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer. The outdoor shop also includes Kindlefest, a holiday market open only in December.
The Farmers Market is an outdoor shopping center across the street from Zingerman’s Delicatessen full of fresh, brightly colored flowers that sit alongside bundles of produce. Vendors sell merchandise ranging from jewelry, breads and jams, to local coffee beans and even snow cones as the summer months begin to heat up.
The Kerrytown market has been serving the community fresh produce and locally-made food since its 1919. As noted in an Ann Arbor Observer article in 1978, the history of the Farmer’s Market included three big moves.
Initially, the shops were located on Main Street but were then quickly moved near the courthouse on Fourth Avenue after residents complained Main was becoming too clogged up with vendors and patrons. The market continued to grow, and so did the need to expand. In 1931, the local market moved to its current location with over 124 stalls surrounding a paved walkway, which was built as a Great Depression Era Works Progress Administration project.
The celebration of the farmers market’s 100th birthday began in the beginning of May with posts on the market’s Facebook page in tandem with an exhibit opening at the Ann Arbor District Library in July.
Stephanie Willet, Ann Arbor Farmers Market manager, said she has been planning events throughout the summer, including a food truck rally and outdoor movie screening in July.
“We are going to be trying to highlight our history as well,” Willet said. “We’ll have a bunch of old photos, we’ll be printing those on banners and hanging them up around the market.”
The farmer’s market will officially commemorate their 100th year anniversary with a “birthday party” on Aug. 17. The party will feature the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, along with an array of children’s events, such as an “instrument petting zoo” where children are able to play with the symphony’s instruments. There will also be a magician and free ice cream to commemorate the expansive history of the farmers market.
The celebration will also focus on the vendors such as Dennis Sparr of Sparr’s Greenhouse in Plymouth. The Sparr family have been vendors at the market for approximately 90 years.
“I like meeting people, I’ve got a green thumb so I like growing things,” Sparr said. “(The people who visit the market) are more down-to-earth people, and don’t put the make-believe face on.”
According to Johanna Epstein, a long-time patron of the market, supporting local businesses is what makes the market such a valuable part of the Ann Arbor community.
“We’re super lucky to have (the market), as people become more aware of how important it is to eat healthy food,” Epstein said. “I like seeing the little kids here too … the kids learn about where food comes from, a lot of kids don’t know that.”