Three decades ago, Beth Tait and a half-dozen acquaintances decided to make some extra money selling the abundance of fruit and vegetables...
Three decades ago, Beth Tait and a half-dozen acquaintances decided to make some extra money selling the abundance of fruit and vegetables from their gardens.
Together, they formed the Redmond Saturday Market — a small, weekly affair where people could buy locally grown and locally homemade goods, Tait recalls.
“People didn’t know what a Saturday market was when we started it,” Tait said. “We all grew and sold our own stuff.”
Not much has changed in the ensuing years, except for the market’s popularity.
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The Redmond Saturday Market is the oldest open-air market on the Eastside, and tomorrow the market celebrates its 30th anniversary, said Joanne Westlund, Redmond Saturday Market president and market manager. And just as it was when the market began, all produce, goods and items sold there must be made or grown in Washington state.
“It’s so unique to be in downtown Redmond — it’s so high-tech here with Microsoft,” Westlund said. “But here we are, bringing in fresh produce.”
Tomorrow, market patrons will be treated to cake and lemonade, a radio broadcast by KMPS-FM (94.1), and grazing alpacas that will make a special appearance in honor of the anniversary.
The market is held in the northwest corner of Redmond Town Center, 7730 Leary Way, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday from May to October. The market has 85 vendor spaces available, and with 140 vendors vying for the spots, it’s always full, Westlund said.
And before vendors can sell their wares there, the product has to pass a panel of judges, she said. “You have to get a high score to get in the market.”
On a recent Saturday, customers strolled among the vendors’ white tents, scanning tables full of strawberries, fresh-cut flowers, homemade jams, pies and cheeses, and crafts such as metal yard art, handcrafted wood furniture and scented candles. Families with children in tow munched on crepes or sandwiches or snacked on fruit they purchased at the market.
“I like to load up on the $5 flower bouquets,” said Colette Nelson of Carnation, whose daughters, Emily, 5, and Lexi, 4, sported cherry-stained lips. The market is a nice place to wile away a summer afternoon, she said.
“I love supporting the local families and farmers,” Nelson said.
The Redmond market seems to draw a different crowd than some of the other Seattle-area farmers markets, said Mare Gogal, who sells nuts, jams and pies.
“I tried to sell at Seattle markets, but I didn’t care for them,” Gogal said. “Those markets are more about consumerism — people expect it to be like a grocery store. But here, it’s more about locally grown and made stuff. And everybody knows everybody here.”
Most Saturdays will still find Tait, now 87, selling her wares — though she now brings crocheted blankets and hand-knit dish towels instead of fresh produce.
“I’ve had customers coming to me for almost the whole time,” Tait said. “I’ve met a lot of good people here.”
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637