More than 80 vendors packed into the Iowa City Community Recreation Center, plus a waiting list of 35 vendors at the Grant Wood Elementary School, Saturday to show off their locally made and grown products from all across Iowa at the Iowa City Holiday Farmers Market.
According to Market Coordinator Tammy Neumann, 84 vendors participated at the Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center alone, up from the 35 vendors when the event originated in 2006.
“You come here and you find things you can’t find anywhere else,” Neumann said. “You can buy unique gifts and everything is fresh.”
This year the city decided to put the waiting list of vendors in the Grant Wood Elementary School, which also boasts an ongoing Winters Market the first and third Saturday of December. The next one is set for Saturday, Dec. 17, from 2 to 4 p.m.
Neumann said as long as the demand is there, they will continue to grow the event.
“This year there has been such a push to buy local every where you go,” she said. “I think everybody is coming around to the ‘buy fresh’, ‘buy local’ campaign, but in Iowa City people have been that way longer.”
People crowded the Iowa City Recreation Center, where the holiday market was held for the second time this season, including Jan Bower, from Indiana.
“I’m visiting friends and wanted to see the local products,” she said. “I bought some local crafts and cheese.”
Her cheese was gouda, produced by Jason Bandstra at his Oskaloosa dairy farm.
“It was a great market today,” Bandstra said, adding New Pioneer Coop carries their cheeses as well.
Steve Garvin, representing Ardon Creek, was featuring their Holiday White wine, made from grapes grown at their vineyard, 15 minutes southwest of Muscatine.
"We enjoy coming up to the farmers markets here," he said. "The closer to Christmas the better it is. We're happy to be here."
Diane Olson of Conesville was selling "blingy" purses made from recycled plastic shopping bags, while her daughter, Renae Evans of Iowa City sold out of her 65 crocheted necklaces by 11 a.m.
"I came to my first market in November with 25 necklaces, and I sold out; so I made 65 this time and sold out again," Evans said, adding her sister and grandmother were also selling their wares.
More art came from Corrine Stanley, who grew up in Southeast Iowa. she offered paper art collage created from images she collected over the years – such as the Mexican playing cards from her time in Mexico, which she uses to border her pieces.
“I saw these little canvases and I had collected images and I just started doing it,” said the owner of Corrine's Art Collage. “I choose the images and designs and go from there.”
Dyed Happy Owner Mary Larsen, who owns a shop in Lone Tree, featured her tie-dyed coats for pets and tie-dyed aprons, among other items.
"Because pets are people too," she joked.
The Iowa City Animal Shelter was onhand with their mobile adoption service, allowing kids of all ages to hold kittens and pet cats - as well as spreading the word about their services.
"There's been people lined up here constantly," said Program Director Charlotte Tobiason. "We're bringing awareness that we exist. We serve all of Johnson County."
Tobiason noted that if an animal is lost or found, people should contact the shelter and they bring pet and owner together, free of charge the first time.
Chef Jenn’s Kitchen, which has been an Iowa City Farmers Market vendor for six years, was selling holiday themed cupcakes like snowmen and Santas, besides her famous Challah bread. Her baked goods are also available at Yotopia Frozen Yogurt on Clinton St. across from the Old Capitol Mall.
Like many of the vendors Saturday, Chef Jenn’s Kitchen will be onhand at the Grant Wood Market Place, Saturday, Dec. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m.
"I know friends of mine who are trying to buy everything at least made in the United States and hopefully local," Neumann said.