Story by Amanda McAllister
Photography by Jeremy Hatch and Janet Tyrie
I was out in the open air, crystal blue skies, full pure white clouds and the sun beaming down on my shoulders.
In the distance I could see ceaseless vineyards that went on to meet the horizon. As I walked, I could appreciate the air was warm and thick, I could feel the sun in my every breath. The warm breeze was refreshing as it wrapped around me like a thin blanket meeting your shoulders at sunset.
As I slowly followed others along the grass, I could hear busy chattering of excitement near by, some had been here many times before but for myself this was going to be a first. A kind man named Jimi welcomed us to the market, he was smiling and ready to assist the community as they entered this experience. The scent of a hickory smoky BBQ made its way in to the breeze. I inhaled deeply and savoured this serendipitous moment as my taste buds danced hoping to participate.
As I circled around taking in all of the sights and smells; my eyes settled on a man with his dog, a fluffy husky that obediently sat at his side. The man smiled, he said a quiet hello and admitted he returned every week solely for his favourite item; the wood fired pizza. He gathered his order and nodded his head goodbye. I watched the man and his dog walk in to the distance and I took note of all of the other dogs of the market greeting, grazing and eating; enjoying themselves as much (if not more) than their human friends.
The band started playing; I caught the scent of cinnamon buns as I let my eyes study all of the desserts. Refreshing ice cream mixed with delicious pies, generous servings of authentic Italian gelato, and many other delights were being served to those with a sweet tooth. Children were laughing and dancing. They held on tight to their treats as they swayed to the music.
I looked around as the guitar played on… there were many varieties of giant perogies, yummy stir-fries, satisfying seafood with fresh oysters shucked by a world champion oyster shucker, mouth watering top of the line burgers, snacks galore, plenty of vegetarian dishes and vegan options. I tried many things and rated my choices as very delicious, fresh, and best of all – homegrown! The choices were many and every craving could easily be satisfied.
I was happy with my seat under the green umbrella, I entered and drifted from the conversation as I took in the crowd. I chatted with tables close by: a group of business owners catching up while sharing innovative tips for their bed and breakfast businesses, a family of four enjoying the variety of sharing their favourites, a dancing baby happily bouncing with an infectious smile, a group of ladies sharing stories over wine, a young couple falling in love, and a group of men discussing sports over craft beer. I even briefly caught a chat with the mayor as he was making his way through the crowd; enjoying conversation with many members of the community.
This comfortable European feel was simply unmistakeable. I had traveled around the world and enjoyed many gatherings, sights, and markets but this market was different. This market was cascading with happiness, food experiences from all over the globe and friendships both old and new. This market resembled the others however, was truly not the same. This market had a flavour that stood apart uniquely from all the rest. This market was home.
For a full list of vendors at The Market at the Village in Niagara on the Lake and for dates/times/further info visit marketatthevillage.ca/
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