DAVENPORT, Iowa — The Freight House Farmers' Market returns with its outdoor season on Saturday, May 1. The market will be open on Saturdays from 8am until 1pm; Sundays from 10am until 2pm; and on Wednesday evenings for their weekly night market from 4pm until 8pm.
While the Freight House was able to hold their outdoor farmers market during the pandemic during the summer of 2020, there were several COVID-related restrictions. For the 2021 season, they're trying to encapsulate all of the things so many of us have been missing since the pandemic began.
All 300 vender slots will be filled for opening weekend, and there will be fruit and vegetable sellers, food stalls, arts venders, live music, a 'canine cabana' and more.
"We're really looking forward to a great year," said Lorrie Beaman, Executive Director of the Freight House Farmers' Market. "We know all of our customers are excited to get back down to the market and we're excited to have them!"
This year, the layout of the market will be changing for safety reasons, and to help with future growth of the event. Vendors will be set up in the two far west lots, and the space in front of Freight House will be open for parking this year. Guests are asked to enter off of Western and leave off of Gaines, so there's less cross-traffic.
And one COVID-born aspect of the event will be sticking around this year: the curbside pick-up.
"We learned a lot of lessons last year and not everything was bad," laughed Beaman. "I think the curbside pick-up was one of those things that has been really a nice addition to the market. Even for those people that wanna sleep late in the morning and not get here early, they can kind of preorder some things and then come and pick it up."
To help mark the opening day occasion, Gnar City Clothing will be at the market on Saturday to screen-print commemorative Freight House Farmers' Market t-shirts. Customers are welcome to either purchase a shirt at the event, or bring their own white t-shirt from home to have it screen-printed for free.
This season the market is continuing with its Snap/EBT programs, so shoppers who utilize those payment forms can still spend them at the farmers' market.
"And then we are also part of the Double Up Food Bucks, so you can come on down and every day you swipe your card you get an additional $10 to spend on fruits and vegetables. It's a great program, great for the farmers, great for the community," said Beaman.
This year, all vendors will be required to mask up for at least the beginning portion of the season. Shoppers will need to wear a mask if they're going into the indoor portion of the market.
Market-goers will also be able to enjoy the newly-renovated indoor space at Freight House. Cross-paths were built into the lay out, allowing for easier movement throughout the different vendors and displays.
"It turned out great," said Beaman. "Our vendors that are more permanent have great build-outs inside. If you haven't been in, it's much different than what you might have seen a few years ago. The traffic flow works really nice and you don't get caught in a cattle rut inside."
As opening weekend approaches, Freight House is also celebrating being voted the top farmers' market along the Mississippi River by River Travel Magazine. It is the second year in a row the market has won the award.
"We think we've got a pretty incredible market here in the Quad Cities," said Beaman. "A nice little gem. It's kind of a great gathering place for the community."