Saturday Market was one of the FIRST things I was hauled out to when I came out here to Eugene, Oregon to visit in August of ’05. To say I’d NEVER seen anything like it is putting it MILDLY.

Back in NYState, my little town of Cold Spring would pull off a ‘street fair’ a couple of times a YEAR. The teeny Cold Spring Farmer’s Market was sweet, but THIS….two FULL city blocks of vendors, with another city block’s worth of Farmers Market vendors across the street…and THEN I find out it happens EVERY WEEK????

You’ve GOT to be kidding.  EVERY week??? Yup, EVERY Saturday, for 7 ½ months outdoors (and another 6 weeks indoors for 2 & 3-day weekends) this enormous ‘tent city’ rises from the sidewalks and DISAPPEARS by Saturday eve. Gone.

Poof.

Like they were never there.

Absolutely mind-boggling.

For years I went as a visitor. It was the favorite place to take a singular GrandMunchkin for one-on-one time, because it’s free, it’s easy, there’s music all day long, places to sit and climb, fabulous food, and ALL those vendors.

It wasn’t until August of ’09 that I finally checked it out. I read the guidelines, went to the product standards committee meeting to present what I do and oh, my, I GOT IN.

That FIRST day, I milled about with all the other hopefuls on the corner of 8th and Oak, listening to names being called and points being counted. I had ZERO points. When all the spaces were taken, there were three newbies standing there. Beth Little, one of the brilliant managers of this incredible happening, looked at the three of us and said “I’m going to MAKE spaces for you.” and she did. Knowing NOTHING about surviving a day a Market, I showed up with no booth, no umbrella, just a card table and SOMETHING of a display.

 

A vendor that I had bought things from way back when I’d first visited back in ’05, and whom I’d told that HE was my inspiration for attempting to JOIN this mad party, was my FIRST sale. A $5 sweet woodruff wreathlet. I honestly don’t remember what I MADE that first day, but I had a BLAST.

The next Saturday I was sent home. No room at the Market. Third week I got a space, fourth week, sent home again. But THAT was the end of my being sent home. I’ve been SHOWING UP ever since.

There’s this incredibly elaborate >point< system that works beautifully to keep vendors from crawling back under the covers on rainy/cold/windy days. If you want your POINT, if you want first choice of spaces both at Saturday AND the coveted Holiday Markets the following year, you SHOW UP. And show up I DID.

By October and November, it was getting to be QUITE the challenge. I remember setting up my tiny 4×4 booth in an 8×8 space and having the lovely woman next to me offer to let me BUNGIE my booth to hers as the winds were to be fierce.

Through that first year, which led to the chance to share a booth with another vendor and so get into Holiday Market last year, the one thing I think I’ve been MOST impressed with is how the vendors take CARE of each other.

This isn’t easy. Sure, the spaces cost us $5 for a 4×4 or $10 for an 8×8 (and $15 for a RESERVED 8×8) but we’re OUTDOORS. Whether it hits 101*, or it’s pouring rain, or (George and Gracie forbid) it’s WINDY. We show up.

Because you know what? Visitors show up. Sure, the crappy-weather days aren’t as MOBBED as the glorious, clear, sunny days, but we’re always gratefully astonished at the number of folks who SO honor this establishment that Saturday Market has become over the past FORTY YEARS, that they show up because WE do.

On the OPENING day of THIS year, I was ceremoniously BUSTED by the Fire Marshall for having clear vinyl on my booth on a potentially rainy day. No plastic is allowed on booth structures. I was instructed to TAKE IT DOWN. Ohhhhh my.

Darling David Rade came by, heard my plight in facing impending rain with NO top on my booth, and he went straight back to his pop-up booth, took off one side, came back to mine with giant spring clips and put the side of HIS booth over the top of mine. When the heavens opened up at 3pm, I COULDN’T have been more grateful.

This kind of loving kindness makes us ALL look out for each other.

As I’ve gone from card table/umbrella to actual booth structure, I still bring my free-standing umbrella JUST in case anyone needs it.

This year, I’ve been gifted with regular neighbors as we line up our 4×4 booths along the very outer edge of the market along the sidewalk on West Park, near the corner of 8th. Four of us have pretty much established ‘reserved’ 4×4 spaces. We have enough points to qualify for ever-changing 8×8 spaces this late in the season, but we CHOOSE to keep our little 4×4’s in the ‘hood.

 

Deb Huntley holds down the corner with her sweet, tiny potted plants in lovingly painted pots and saucers, along with circularly-hand-painted sake bottle flowervases and Zenhomeschool posters and educational materials. I’m next to Deb with my tinctures and infused oils and herbal wonders. Then comes Kevin with his fabulous Fractal Geometry artwork, then comes Pamela with her wonderful jewelry. We have a blast.

And so today we faced most DIRE weather reports. Predicted was windy rain ALL DAY LONG. Ugh. The four of us put our noggins together, grabbed two 8×8 spaces to divide up among the four of us and set about to set up in the RAIN.

We were SOAKED, Charlie Brown, completely SOAKED!

The finagling to engineer umbrella-drip-lines to miss the next vendor’s merchandise, to make sure everyone was safe and dry – was QUITE the construction project. The LAUGHTER necessary to pull off a stunt like this was CONSIDERABLE.

I anchored one end of the New Neighborhood and Kevin AND Deb anchored the other. Once I was tucked in to my little rain-proofed booth, I began to hear comments like “Awww you look so COZY in your little nest”

 

And I was.

Pamela’s umbrella was actually OVER my little booth,

 and my ‘public service’ umbrella was between us to shield our excess STUFF. Kevin attached his tarp to the top of my stepstool and FINALLY, we all were settled. At which point the rain STOPPED.

Honest.

It just STOPPED.

At one point, not quite trusting my glasses, I asked Pamela if she saw the RAIN half a block away at the parking garage, but it wasn’t falling on US. ‘Twas true, we all saw the rain falling half a block away.

Just not on us.

Hey. We’re GOOD.

This IS the famous Eugene Saturday Market.

By the end of the day our little GypsyNeighborhood had just become funnier and funnier. We’d picked up the four of us and scooted ourselves around the corner.

Next SUNNY Saturday, we’ll be spread out down the West Park sidewalk, but if the weather gets grizzly again, (and we’re OUT here through November 13th) we’ll return to being The Village Peoples.

And a little ps…..

The NEXT morning, I found myself enjoying watching the pouring rain and things began happening on the keyboard:

Rainy Sunday AFTER Saturday Market

Rain, rain, it’s OKAY

Fill the wells and rinse away

All the pollen, dust and grime,

I’ll watch from here,

It’s lazy time.

In my bathrobe, not my boots

No umbrellas or rainsuits.

Watch the rain through my window

There’s NO place

That I have to go.

There’s NO place that I have to be

So rain out there and not on me

Of ‘stay outside’ I’ve had my share

This morning

I don’t have to care.

This morning I can watch it pour

Through the window, through the door

Because it isn’t yesterday,

Go right on, rain,

It’s QUITE OKAY.

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