Winter Park's Saturday morning tradition since 1979
The Winter Park Farmers Market opened on May 19th, 1979. The old freight depot and the surrounding property are located along New York Avenue and Lyman Avenues. This property was purchased by the City in 1977 with the intention of tearing the old depot down to provide a parking lot for downtown visitors. The purchase cost of this property was $250,000. The idea of a farmer's market was proposed by City Commissioner Jerome Donnally as one way to put the depot to constructive use on Saturdays. Commissioner Donnally also thought that an open-air market would be an excellent spot where Winter Park residents could gather, as he envisioned that this would foster a sense of community. Additionally, he felt that it would attract more people into downtown Winter Park on Saturdays, which was in keeping with Winter Park's community-oriented downtown shopping concept. He received very enthusiastic phone calls and letters from the residents supporting his idea.
The City Commission approved the concept of a farmers market and set out policies regulating when and where produce and plants could be sold by the vendors. On its opening, the hours were from 8:00 a.m. 2:00 p.m. each Saturday.
The Farmers Market got off to a "rousing start" that first Saturday when about 10,000 people showed up to buy produce and plants offered by 12 vendors. The number of people who shopped at the market exceeded all expectations.
Within two years the Farmers Market was described as a weekly social function for many of the older residents of the community. It became part of their weekly routine, and many wouldn't have dreamed of missing it!
In 1989, the market celebrated its 10th anniversary. Customers continued to come on a weekly basis - not only for the bargains and variety of produce and plants available, but for the enjoyable atmosphere, unique ambience, and charm. By that time, the available items included: flowers, cakes, nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, coffees, bagels and pastries.
On May 30th, 2009, the Farmers Market celebrated its 30th anniversary celebration. The City of Winter Park held special activities (door prizes, games, face painting and a dog show) and honored vendors and individuals who had been affiliated with the market since its inception. Mayor Ken Bradley made a keynote address and awarded plaques to the vendors who had been with the
market the longest. He also designated May 30th as Farmers Market Day. In 2009, the market hosted over 80 vendors with approximately 5,000 visitors shopping for diverse kitchen and garden items.
The following images of the Farmers Market were found within four notebooks of slides (1998-2002)
that the library received from the City of Winter Park in January 2014.