The Roanoker - July/August 2017 - 146
THEN & NOW
Roanoke City Market
JULIANNE RAINONE / ARCHIVAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES
IT'S BEEN 135 YEARS since Roanoke's downtown farmers market, a city symbol, opened with 25 hucksters, otherwise known
In the market's early days, including this view from 1936, there
were more meat vendors compared with today's seller mix, says
Eric Pendleton, market manager for Downtown Roanoke, Inc.
Today's market includes an approximately 60 percent farmer
mix, alongside crafters and others vendors. Martin Farms of Fincastle is the oldest continuous market vendor. It has been on the
market since 1904.
The more than 50 contract vendors have stalls marked by awnings hanging up and down Market Street. Today's awnings and
tables did not go up until 1979, when the market was redesigned.
Some of today's notable vendors include Woods Farm, Rolling
Meadows Farm. Walter's Greenhouse, Artistic Expressions, Nic's
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Garden and Pane in the Glass Studio.
The seven-day a week farmers market is a historic landmark
for Roanoke, Virginia and the United States. It claims the title
of oldest continuously operating open-air market in the state. It
also is named among the Great American Public Places, alongside
Central Park in New York City, by the Lyndhurst Foundation.
The adjacent Market Square now is reserved for vendors and
shoppers - no vehicle parking.
Visitors often venture to the nearby City Market Building,
which houses a renovated food court and dining space. The building opened in 1886, forming the core of the market area. After a
fire destroyed the structure, it was rebuilt in 1922.
For more than a century, these iconic food and market spaces have
stood as symbols of community pride for Roanokers near and far.
-JENNY KINCAID BOONE