Holiday Farmers’ Market

For the fifth year, the Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Winter Market was held this weekend in Capital Square and Nollen Plaza. It’s an opportunity for shoppers like me to buy our favorite local foods as we settle in for the winter, and it’s an opportunity for vendors to sell their wares in a guaranteed high-traffic venue.

Vendors sell a wide variety of products: cookies and cinnamon rolls, soaps and jams, carved wooden Christmas decorations, late-season produce, bread and cheese, flowers and wreaths, nuts, wine, pasta – you name it. I discovered a couple of vendors last year who sold packaged herbs that you add to sour cream or cream cheese to make simple dips and cheese balls. I think these vendors probably sell at the regular farmers’ market, too, but these products really only interest me at the holidays when I have to come up with something simple and portable to take to our family gatherings in Kansas City. Last year’s cheese balls got rave reviews, so I stocked up on more for this year.

Capital Square (400 Locust Street) is really too small and not exactly set up for this kind of event. Vendors are located around the perimeter of the facility’s two floors, and it’s not unusual to encounter impenetrable traffic jams, not to mention scarily overcrowded escalators. But it’s become a tradition for me, like the regular farmers’ market, so I make the trek downtown in November and December and fight my way to the Maytag Dairy and Frisian Farms cheese booths, the South Union Bakery booth, the Beaverdale Confections booth (for gourmet marshmallows and hot cocoa), and, of course, the Strudl Haus booth for yummy Dutch letters.

If you missed this one, there’s one more Winter Market Dec. 17-18.

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