Farmers’ markets back in the day
No bib overalls in that farmers market photo above. Right?
As a kid, I first became aware of farmers coming to town with produce. It didn’t seem to be such a grand affair. They were casual. Back then, it was just a pickup or two parked on main street on Saturdays, or sometimes at the gas station on the highway. Fresh garden produce sold off the tail gate.
Usually farmers, like my grandfather in his clean work clothes, bib overalls, selling sweet corn, tomatoes and apples from his farm. Or in the early summer, scads of strawberries. (I think that’s what a flock of strawberries is called, “scads.”)
Decades later, in Mandan, I visited farmers markets to buy bread, jams and jellies. Same deal, a farmer, and/or his wife in their clean work clothes, produce displayed on a card table or pickup truck tail gate.
So, when I went to the Watford City farmers market, (called Watford Market), I appreciated the modernization of the bib overall, pickup truck tailgate sales approach. Little portable credit card readers at each table. Heck, those pickup trucks on main street 50 years ago didn’t even know what a credit card was. Everything was cash.
We got there about supper time, 5:00 central time. I figured that was a good time to arrive, get on the front end of any prepared food for sale. I was hungry.
It was supposed to get going about 5:30, so we got to watch fiercely focused farmers with their pickup trucks in the parking lot. They set their minds to unloading tables, chairs, and farm produce.
In minutes, they had tables lined up with care and soon, the crowd would all be there. And a crowd it was. It looked to me like a couple hundred people filed past the tables in that first hour.
He who delays goes hungry at this farmers’ market
I looked for food. The soap, and clothes and pottery were just not my thing. So, I picked out some bread and rolls to buy after I made the full tour, and walked by again on the return trip to my pickup.
Okay. That’s a lesson. Do not wait. She was sold out in minutes.
Later, I knew 5-dollar hamburgers would be served, hot off the grill. Until then, I parked myself for the dance demonstration – the Hispanic Advocacy of North Dakota. Apparently, it is a growing group, drawn to the oil-rich region to work. I like that. People attracted to a region for work, not play.
The official word from the McKenzie County EDC is that the county’s Hispanic population has increased 1003% over the past 10 years according to the latest Census info.
They not only work hard, they play hard — and dance hard — and celebrate hard.
They demonstrated their traditional dance, while the Watford Market went on. People were eating and playing to the tunes reverberating through the park.
I watched several dances, and recorded this one for you to see.
There’s a lot to these dances. They had to order their dresses from Mexico to get the real thing. Each dance has a significant meaning and is performed in Mexico for special occasions.
I had to have one of the organizers of the dance troupe explain it to me. I could try to give you a sense of what the dance demonstration was all about, but it would be better if she told you herself. So here she is:
When we left the Watford Market, we stopped by the bread lady — and she was sold out. Gotta get it sooner next time.
The honey lady still had a supply. I love honey and bought a sample of elderberry honey.
They say the Watford Market will run one more time this summer, on Thursday, September 9. And, if the weather holds, and the crowds are there, maybe the down home flavor of food, garden produce soap and pottery will be displayed one more week. Follow the McKenzie County event calendar here.
Yeah, the school year has started, and summer is winding down, but there are still a lot of things to do and see in the North Dakota Badlands.
Our “Things to Do” page and calendar is the most comprehensive, exhaustive (and exhausting) calendar for western North Dakota. Even more farmers’ markets. In fact, if you watch that page, you may find other local events where you can get locally produced food, garden produce and ethnic events — with or without bib overalls.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to go to a farmers’ market?
They are free. It’s a social and economic event. No two farmers’ markets are the same, and in many towns, they continue through September.
Where is Watford City?
Watford City is on Highway 83 just north of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is the county seat of McKenzie County.
What is there to do in Watford City?
In the last 10 years, the surprisingly artistic town of Watford City has expanded its events venues at the Rough Rider Center and at many local venues for event’s like rodeos, hockey, swimming, shopping and historical research for families and adventurers.