It may not feel like spring yet in Anchorage, but that’s not stopping the Farmer’s Markets from opening.
There are two small piles of snow left in the Spenard parking lot across from Chilkoot Charlie’s, and Mark Butler is determined to make sure they’re gone by Saturday.
“So I’m walking over to our snow pile, the biggest one, and I’m hoping to knock it all down, or at least a big chunk of it, so that we can spread it out and the sun this week will make the snow go away,” Butler said. “We’re going to try it and see if I can get under the icy pile here.”
That’s because Saturday is opening day for the Spenard Farmer’s Market, which Butler helps organize. The Spenard Market is one of six markets throughout the city and the only non-profit, organized entirely by volunteers. Some opened earlier this spring and others will start up in the coming weeks. Butler says, each market is different, and that’s intentional.
“The idea in a community market is not that we’re in competition with each other but rather that people can come to the market closest to them, if they choose, and they can see their neighbors and they can talk about their kids and who’s doing what and what’ happening and what’s happening and so forth,” Butler said. “And we think that that’s very neighborhood building and very positive for the community.”
Butler describes what’s special about the Spenard Market.
“In ours, you really feel like you’re in Spenard. Why would that be? As an example we have a tarot card and palm reader. So, we’re probably the only market in Alaska that has one. We are a bike friendly market. We have a lot of people who come by bike, families show up by bike, we have bike racks and so forth. Ah, we have a mobile-mending booth,” Butler said.
Wait, did he say ‘mobile-mending booth’?
“She mends stuff while you wait,” Butler said.
So you can get a button sewn on your shirt while you shop for locally grown produce and get your palm read. Butler says one improvement to the market this year is a new sound system for musicians. As for those snow piles that Butler is chipping away at it.
“Well it’s certainly not going away easily. It’s like our winter here… there’s a good one, but there will be a summer and there will be a market,” he said.
The National Weather Service says he could be shoveling more snow out of the lot Saturday morning, but it is technically springtime in Alaska, Butler says. And, snow or not, the Spenard Farmer’s Market will open Saturday under the big while windmill sculpture. It runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the last Saturday in September.