I love farmer’s markets. I have this image of me, with a straw basket over the arm and one of those floppy straw hats and a flowery dress, casually browsing produce. This mid-90s Meg Ryan-ish scene even smells perfect. It looks better in my head than written out, trust me.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to explore the Thursday night Downtown Farmers Market at the Sands. And, since I brought it up, I did wear a dress, but not one of those straw hats. I have one, but I couldn’t find it. I am sure it is in a box with my copy of Sleepless in Seattle and my Sarah McLachlan CDs; it was the 90s folks!
It was hot July afternoon, well over 95 degrees. But here is one of the many great things about this market. All 10,000-square-feet of it is completely shaded making it comfortable to browse as long as you want, which is appreciated when you are shopping at 4 p.m. and even more so when the little ones are will you.
What is even better, this Farmer’s Market is family-friendly and designed to offer something for everyone. Shirley Sponsler worked closely with the Sands to be sure that families were a top priority. Shirley told me she wanted a comfortable space that showcased what local farmers were growing and where the community could shop but also have fun. The Sands helped make that happen with their huge tent that gives plenty of room for the vendors with wide walkways needed for browsing with or without strollers.
As the owner of Shirley’s Famers Markets, Shirley has spent close to two decades hosting farmers’ markets in Reno and Sparks. She ensures the farmers bring produce from certified farms, and they actually grow what they bring. She also features arts and crafts, local food-focused vendors and specialty food purveyors. The night I was there Wedge had a huge selection of cheese to sample, Schat’s had their amazing bread and pastries and there were hand-dipped chocolate-covered ice-cream bars and frozen bananas rolled in your choice of nuts, sprinkles or other goodies, plus there were pickles, salsa, honey, jams, jellies, marinades, local meats and so much more.
Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries were in season the week I was there, and tomatoes were starting to make their debut, just begging to be taken home for Bruschetta and Caprese. Or maybe just eating in wedges with a little salt over the sink (that might just be me…) The white nectarines and peaches should be just about perfect for the next few weeks, do not miss them. Those blackberries and blueberries, they were transformed into an amazing Berry Buckle thanks to Melissa Clark.
And the market can really serve as a way to get your kids to try new fruits and veggies without some of the tug-of-war, arm-twisting that you have to do at home. Each stand was offering samples, so the kids can taste lots of different things and then help pick out what to take home.
You might be thinking, so what about dinner? They have you covered there as well, just walk up to one of featured food trucks for a quick snack or a meal, sponsored by Reno Street Food, the folks that host the Friday night event at Idlewild Park.
Kids got the wiggles? Each Thursday a different live band plays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and a dance floor lets the kids shake it off and possibly making bedtime a little bit easier.
Dad or Mom needs a cocktail? Understandable! There are so many choices from a fresh lemonade that you can “enhance” if you choose to a full bar with season signature drinks by the Sands’ bartenders and beer garden with local craft beers. Plus, Sam Adams is sponsoring summer games such as Cornhole, Basketball, Jenga and Connect Four with prizes, so mom and dad can get their wiggles out as well.
And here’s a sneak peek into a fun upcoming event at the market, the High Sierra Chefs Association, Inc. will be conducting cooking demonstrations on July 28 and August 25.
I had a few minutes to speak with Pete McHugh, assistant general manager of the Sands. “There is a lot of excitement surrounding downtown Reno in the summer. We want our downtown community to enjoy this great summer-long event in an inviting, fun and vibrant place.”
Spend a Thursday evening with Shirley’s Farmers Markets and the Sands Regency at the Downtown Farmers Market at the Sands.
The market is held Every Thursday until August 25 between 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Live music begins at 5 p.m. It is at 345 N. Arlington Ave., Reno, NV 89501.
Free parking is located in the Sands parking lots on Arlington Ave. and parking is also available on Ralston St. right behind the market.