Quiet at first but soon excited voices start to fill the entire market. People are meandering about, pausing frequently to take “just a look” at different vendor booths. Ending up with more than they bargained for. Gradually filling up their reusable bags.
Bundled up in warm clothes, from young to old. Sounds of sizzling pupusas (corn flour pockets stuffed with a flavorful filling) filling the cold air around them with a wonderful smell. Though all the faces are covered with masks, the smiling eyes are still ever so present, bright and awake. Strangers say a bright hello and good morning! Or good afternoon to one another. The ever so polite “Excuse me’s,” “Are you in line?” “Oh, you go ahead, I’m just looking right now…”
Delicious baked goods slow passersby, browsing the homemade sweets and breads. Colorful, fresh vegetables set up in a beautiful, eye-catching arrangement. Home-raised meats available for purchase, too. Flowers, cheese, fish, tamales, popcorn…
Anyone is welcome at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market. Be sure to bring your masks. It starts at 9 a.m and goes till 1 p.m. Running every Saturday from Jan. 9 to April 10 inside Guerber Hall at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St. on the west side of Corvallis.
“Today was our first time going to the Saturday Market. We just moved to Corvallis seven months ago. … Our neighbor told us about it. We were very skeptical at first. What are they going to be selling in winter? But today we purchased some fish, popcorn, flour,” said Jo and Alan Campbell.
“What we now call the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market started as a program of the Independent Community Center at Fern and Airport roads, south of Philomath, around the mid-1990s,” said Rebecca Landis, market director of Corvallis-Albany Farmers’ Markets.
“The original market was cozy and social, but organizers were looking to serve a greater function at some point,” she wrote in an email. “It became a Saturday morning market in winter to fill in the time that the downtown market was closed. At least one vendor from that time is still in the market … now called Rasmussen Family Farm. I remember she was selling salsa kits with her homegrown peppers and tomatoes.”
“When we first moved to the old chapel at the fairgrounds (no longer there) we wanted to have a ‘full house’ to welcome customers. I recall anxiously cold-calling many vendors to ask for their commitment, and feeling immense relief when Denison Farms agreed to be our produce anchor,” said Bertie Stringer.
Currently most of it is outdoors, under the cover of the large roof, while few are actually inside of Guerber Hall. Though this is due to COVID and due to so many vendors now who are participating. Keep in mind that during COVID times, visitors need to come in small groups, if possible with one or two people. Children under 4 years of age are not required to wear masks.
“I think my favorite thing about the market is finding things that are fresh and local with a lot of variety,” said one visitor. “I’m always finding things I’ve never seen before. It especially has been really nice to attend during COVID.”
So it continues. Customers come, and go.
At a Glance
What: Indoor Corvallis Winter Market 2021
When: Jan. 9 – April 10, every Saturday
Where: Guerber Hall at the Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd St.
What’s Next?: Go to the next Saturday Market!