Before I’d ever set foot in Sonoma County, I’d heard about the Wednesday Night Market from my soon-to-be housemate, who was a fan of the beloved downtown Santa Rosa street fair. Soon enough, so was I. Romances and jobs came and went, but the market remained. Like many of you, I’m thrilled that after a two-year hiatus, the market returns on May 18 and will run through the summer until August 31.
“We’re bringing together the best that Sonoma County has to offer,” says Tina Castelli, the market’s organizer. They’re expecting between 40-50 veteran and new vendors, condensed to the Square and the side streets, leaving 4th Street and Mendocino Ave open. “This new layout was necessary for our first year back because of funding. Still the same fabulous food, farmers, artists, live music and family fun exhibits,” promises Castelli.
Here are my tips on what to bring to maximize your experience:
Enjoy the happy problem of too many delicious food booths to choose from. Favorites like Pacheco’s roasted corn and the Pasta King will be back, as well as newcomers Papas Papas Fries and Chava’s fire-grilled pizza. I love an opportunity to let my kids eat dinner on a stick (look out for a new corn dog vendor this year) while I feast on falafel or Nellie’s oysters.
YOUR REUSABLE UTENSILS
Sponsored by Recology, the market vendors have all swapped styrofoam for compostable and recyclable dishes, and many are using compostable wooden utensils, which reduces the waste bound for the landfill. Do your part and find a set of reusable bamboo utensils (available at Community Market) for less than the cost of your meal.
AN EXTRA BAG
Load up on baked goodies from Red Bird Bakery— whose new storefront recently opened in the SOFA district—and seasonal bounties from the farm vendors lined up on the west side of the Square.
If your kids are like mine, buy an extra basket of strawberries for the walk or ride home. (For tips on how to make the most of those berry tops, see this month’s Locavore column on page 58).
Cozy up your plot of real estate on the Square, which is ringed by food and artists booths, and site for both the live music (enjoying a bigger budget this year) and the kid-friendly activities. Look out for Wee Play’s foam toddler play area, and interactive City Works and Children’s Museum of Sonoma County attractions and exhibits.
Some 5,000 people attend the weekly market, so long lines are inevitable. Take a deep breath and remember how much you’ve missed this.
Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa
Wednesdays 5:30- 8:30 from 5/18 to 8/31
Photos courtesy of City of Santa Rosa Downtown Events