It had to happen, but it always makes me a little sad. Summer winds down, and so do the farmers markets. This weekend will be the last for Lilburn Farmers Market and Cherokee Fresh Market.
Both are super-local, family friendly markets that are well worth a visit. So, if you’ve been meaning to check one (or both) out, this weekend will be your last chance of the year.
If you’re a regular, well, you’ll want to say goodbye to your favorite vendors.
I visited the Cherokee market last weekend, where I was forced to sample homemade pies as a judge for a pie bake-off involving the Waleska, Woodstock and Cherokee Fresh farmers markets. (It was a tough job, but hey, someone had to do it. I shared the responsibility with Holly Chute, executive chef at the governor’s mansion, and Brian Jones, chef de cuisine at Ritz-Carlton’s Atlanta Grill). Between bites of truly fantastic pie, I got to check out the vendors, chat with shoppers, watch kids compete in their own pie-eating contest, and just take in the friendly vibe under the big yellow tent at Cagle’s Family Farm.
This is the kind of market where people don’t just shop; they visit. They hang around and talk with their neighbors. It’s not a big market, but every vendor there is approachable and eager to share. You can easily spend an hour at Cherokee Fresh Market by asking each vendor just one question about his or her products. Surprises and special treats include (but are not limited to) hand-made soft pretzels, a savory granola, pies (yes! More pies!), flavored boiled peanuts, fresh corn, old-timey hard pears, handmade jams, really big onions, and super-cool ground cherries.
If you’re anywhere near Hickory Flat, I highly recommend you stop by Cherokee Fresh Market for the final market of the season, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday at 362 Stringer Road, Canton.
And no matter where you live, I suggest that you check out this grand-prize-winning recipe for Über Güber Pie and this outstanding winner in the youth category (and overall second place winner), Laura's Blueberry Lime Pie.
Don’t worry! You don’t have to choose between the attending the final Cherokee Fresh or Lilburn Farmers Market; you can go to both. The Lilburn market is 4 to 8 p.m. Friday off Main Street in downtown Lilburn, in the Greenway Trail parking lot (you can’t miss it). With about 40 vendors expected this weekend, the Lilburn market is bigger than Cherokee, but it has a similar hometown feel and lots of extremely local vendors that you won’t see all over town.
Some of those include Savory Sensations, two sisters who sell English muffin bread and handmade preserves; Tweedy’s Bagels, a Lawrenceville restaurant that sells bagels and cream cheese spreads at the market; and Sunshine Farm, which sells handmade empanadas in addition to produce.
As if that weren’t enough, shoppers at this final market will also be entertained by the Ukulele Society of Decatur.
So long, Lilburn Farmers Market and Cherokee Fresh Market. We hope we’ll see y’all again next year.
Photos by Jeannie Ross