The downtown Des Moines Farmers Market is one of the largest farmers markets in the United States - and arguably it's also probably the best.
The event happens weekly, for literally 6 months out of the year (May - October), and never experiences a true dip in enthusiasm. Even with rain falling and soggy conditions, as was the case this past Saturday, there is always something to see, an experience to share, and a new product to try. That variety keeps people coming back week after week and year after year. It has truly developed a durable following of fans.
I have been going regularly since 2011 and when I'm in the Des Moines area on weekends, it's certainly something I build my Saturdays around. The event has grown considerably and now takes up many blocks of downtown Des Moines.
In some respects, it's become a victim of its own success. During certain times of year at certain times of the morning (10 A.M. in July, for example), it can be almost uncomfortably packed. And it's not just people filling up the streets - there's plenty of strollers full of babies and dogs of all sizes on leashes. Additionally, because Des Moines is also experiencing an explosion of re-development, there are also some (hopefully temporary) parking complications because of changes in parking garage availability.
Naturally, the farmers market changes with the seasons. There are pumpkins in the fall and sweet corn in the summer, for example, but certain products, goods, and entertainment are weekly staples.
You can always count on plenty of delicious breakfast options, several coffee vendors, numerous produce stands, and a differing array of street performers. You can buy art, clothes, welded materials, jewelry, flowers, and much more. Want to sit on a patio with a beer, a balloon animal, and a fresh baked pie? It's all possible.
It is sponsored by UnityPoint Health Des Moines and there is a tent, "Meals From the Market", where vendors or shoppers can donate produce or other goods to be given to the less fortunate, including food banks and the homeless.
It's a great place to go for breakfast or go late in the morning for an earlier lunch. I've been known to do both - and sometimes in the same morning!
This past week, I noticed a few new vendors that certainly add to the hipster vibe of downtown Des Moines. A stand selling "beard oil" and another selling "bone broth" had patrons stoping by - if nothing else - to satiate their curiosity.
Even though there are only 3 weeks left for the 2017 season, I would highly encourage anyone to check it out yet this year.
From breakfast, bloody Mary's, and BBQ to beard oil, bone broth, and bonsai plants, there's literally something for just about everyone. And if none of that interests you, you can always get your fill on people watching. It's a great mix of people, pets, performers, and sometimes - street preachers.
Check out more information on vendors, entertainment, and more on the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market website.