Saturday at the Front Street Markets

Front Street is lined with vehicles and shoppers from late morning to midafternoon each Saturday during the summer, even on days when there’s a smoky haze or a bit of a drizzle.

The biggest attraction is the traditional Farmers’ Market, which has been going on weekly for many years.

The Klondike has a healthy crop of farms, both large and small. While some of their produce makes it into the grocery stores and onto the tables at the town’s restaurants, it’s a treat for residents to be able to buy produce straight from the people who grow it.

The vendors set themselves up in the log-framed parking stalls and display their wares for the folks to see. There’s lots of browsing and conversation and you really need to get there fairly early if you want to find a convenient parking spot.

The original concept was that this would be a time and place to buy locally grown veggies and other food crops. Then there are vendors who sell live plants, not all of which are necessarily foodstuffs. In addition to things related to eating, there are also garden plants, bushes and young trees for sale.

The variety in the stalls has expanded over the years to include jewelry, clothing, kids’ toys and all manner of plastic kitchen ware.

If it happens to be raining, some of this activity might be moved into the picnic shelter that was built next to the market area a few years ago now. But we are also in the third year of a fledgling Artists’ Market, which is taking up quite a bit of space in the shelter on Saturdays throughout the summer.

This was originally begun as an offshoot of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s economic development study, and was coordinated by a person hired by the Dawson City Arts Society.

More recently, the artists have been scheduling themselves. That does seem to mean that attendance by the artists is not as organized or regular as it was in the beginning, but there is still a regular turnout.

When the annual goldpanning competition was moved to Saturday this year, the existence of the two markets happening at the same time worked out very well. There are always lulls in the action at the goldpanning event, and the markets gave the audience something to do in between the various classes of panners.

This type of shopping is an entirely different experience from pushing one’s shopping cart around the aisles of the two grocery stores.

Not that they don’t offer good food and serve a very necessary purpose all year round, but it is nice to have this seasonal change for part of the year.

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