Simcoe Farmer’s Market
Simcoe, ON N3Y 1G6
Norfolk County Fairgrounds
Open every Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm all year round. There are 30 – 50 vendors
History of Simcoe Farmers Market
As early as 1849 George Kent donated some land to be used for a market. The area between what is now known as Robinson, Head, Talbot and Market Streets, was an open-air market until 1868. At that time a building was erected, mainly to be used by the market butchers with the rest of the market, including live animals, outside.
The market as we know it began in 1980 when the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce suggested reviving a summer market to promote tourism and to bring local farm fresh produce to area residents.
During the winter of 1980, some dedicated vendors and market supporters searched for a building that could be used for a permanent year round market. By the spring of 1981, the market had a home. The Norfolk County Fair Board offered to rent the market the ground floor area of a large building with plenty of space out back for parking and the outside market and parking. The market was a risky business at first with only 6 vendors staying during the winter to pay the rent. Fortunately, the Town of Simcoe agreed to help support and run the market, realizing that a market is a very useful community amenity.
From those scant beginnings, we have grown to 30+ year round vendors, with a waiting list. In addition, we have up to 20 local farmers bringing their produce to the seasonal outdoor market. Over the years, we have made several improvements, most noticeably the heating (4 furnaces), new doors and stairwell enclosures. Now in the winter we do not need our winter coats on! What a difference from that first year when those 6 vendors had only snow suits, enthusiasm, commitment and a rented construction heater to keep them warm. The heater made so much noise, they had to shout to each other.
Our now vibrant market offers the customer the opportunity to talk to the people who make or grow what they sell and evidence of the pride and knowledge in the products is obvious. There are pesticide free, hydroponic, odd and unusual varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers, preserves from own produce and home baked pies. We have vendors who press their own apple cider, collect honey and tap the maple trees to make syrup. Specialty bakeries offer Canadian, Dutch and Portuguese goodies, and there are bulk baking supplies for customers who make their own.
There are vendors who butcher the meat, catch and smoke the fish, process the poultry, rabbits, eggs that are for sale. We have a deli who produces their own products and a cheese vendor who makes many of the cheeses they bring to market. Other vendors buy a large variety of produce which helps to give the market a more varied selection of fruits and vegetables which just do not grow in Ontario’s winter! The list goes on as we walk through the craft-section displaying beautifully made pottery, woodwork, woodwork, baby clothes, sewing, knitting, handmade soaps and creams and miscellaneous items. There is also a lunch counter which serves delicious lunches every week and in the seasonal market the best homemade “gelato” ice cream.
The market is a community event where many people meet their friends and neighbours while shopping in a more social and personal way than at a supermarket.