Monday, July 28, 2014

Knoxville’s Downtown Farmer’s Market

Despite having lived in East Tennessee…and within 45 minutes of downtown Knoxville, until recently we’d never gone downtown to check out the Farmer’s Market that is set up in Market Square on Saturday’s all summer long… Part of our excuse is that in general we don’t like crowds.  With Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill visiting us, we were incentivized to check out this local event and attraction…

It was a Saturday morning when we visited the Farmer’s Market.  Right away, two things were obvious… First, this is a really big outdoor market!  Secondly, with thousands of folks in attendance, it is definitely a very popular place on Saturdays!

The Market Square Farmers’ Market is located in the heart of downtown Knoxville and it is celebrating its 10th season this year.  Everything at the Market is grown or made by the vendor in the East Tennessee region. Products vary by the seasons and include produce, eggs, honey, herbs, free-range meat, bread, baked goods, salsas, coffee, and artisan crafts.

Market Square is surrounded by old repurposed buildings…and some of them are architecturally interesting.  Restaurants and drinking establishments abound!  These include: Tupelo Honey Café; Trio; Blue Coast Burrito Grille and Margarita Loft; Café 4; Cocoa Moon; Latitude 35; Oodles Uncorked; The Tomato Head, and; Soccer Taco.

Many of the vendors at the Market are not produce or food vendors.  Products being sold include such items as soaps, candles, jewelry, crafts, clothing, pottery, furniture, flowers and plants, photos, coffee, dog treats and art work.

Busy place isn’t it!  Knoxville’s Market Square was conceived in 1853 as a clever real-estate scheme by two young investors who expected to get rich off the idea.  It became Knoxville’s most public spot, a marketplace familiar to every man, woman, and child in the area.  By the 1860s, it was the busiest place in a burgeoning city, a place to shop, work, play, eat, drink, and live.

We had no trouble spending a relaxing couple of hours touring the Farmer’s Market and checking out the products being offered… With the old buildings and the shade provided by the old trees, the atmosphere was easy going, despite the size of the crowd.

This is one of the many food trucks and food vendors… Mister Canteen has a bit of a Navy theme to it.  This is partly because the operator’s father and both grandfathers served in the U.S. Navy.  Many of the food items offered, such as ‘Egg Banjo’, are named after meals served on navy ships.  During World War II, one of their grandfathers served as a baker on the USS Vulcan AR-5.  Apparently everyone on the ship loved and looked forward to the weekly "Donut Day".  Each sailor was allowed two donuts, but apparently that didn't stop the men from fighting over them.  Consequently, Mister Canteen features donuts as their key dessert item…

I had to include a picture of Mister Canteen’s menu board.  It has serious character!  I was intrigued with the Indian Fry Bread Tacos…especially the part about the ingredients including ‘Riverplains Farm Mulefoot Hog’!  For 2 reasons I had to skip this treat… First, my favorite food vendor was just down the way and secondly, we were planning to go out for lunch after a while…

All of the food trucks and food vendors were lined up along one of the streets that run off one end of the Farmer’s Market.  Some of the many food trucks included in this group are: Bulls BBQ; Hoof; Savory and Sweet; Three Bears Coffee Company and; the Tootsie Truck.  As you can see, this side street was very popular with the shoppers!

This is my favorite food vendor!  Good Golly Tamale doesn’t even operate a truck or trailer… Their product is prepared in a local restaurant and then delivered via a bicycle food ‘cart’.  Our absolute favorite is the Thai Chicken Tamale, we each had one), but Laurie and I both also like the Black Bean and Cheese Tamale!

For more about Good Golly Tamale, you can go to

Bill tried a milk shake from the Cruze Farm Milk Bar… It was very good but it took a long time for them to get it ready for him.  As you can see, they offer more than just dairy products.  Check out their Facebook site at

There were a few guys scattered around Market Square trying to earn a few dollars by playing music.  One ‘musician’ could just barely blow his horn…and he certainly couldn’t produce any music.  On the other hand, the gentleman in this photo…and his saxophone…could produce a melody for sure!

This little collage will give you an idea of the wide variety of produce, baked goods and flowers available at the Market.  As far as food goes, there were also vendors selling fresh sweet corn, coffee, mushrooms, fruit, herbs, meat/poultry, hot sauce, honey, jerky of various types, jams/jellies, tea, cider/apple pies and fried pies, jerky, hot sauces…you name it!  

To learn more about the Knoxville Farmer’s Market, including a list of vendors as well as an interactive map of the vendors and their products, you can just go to  The Farmer’s Market’s hours are: Wednesday from 11am. to 2pm. and Saturday from 9am. to 2pm.  The Market operates until November 22nd of this year…

Of course, I liked watching the people wandering through the Farmer’s Market.  Even more to my liking was the fact that so many people had brought their critters with them…mostly dogs…but also a pet pig on a leash.  There were some other critters playing in the splash fountain in Market Square…and they seemed to be having the best time of all!

I’m ending this little tour with a photo of the “Scruffy City Hall and Brewery”, a new spot on Market Square for food, libations and entertainment… Initial public comments have been very positive and this business may well end up earning its own blog in the not too distant future.  The same company also owns “Preservation Pub”, “Knoxville Uncorked” and “Earth to Old City”, all on the Square.  If anyone checks this place out before we do, please let me know what you thought!  Check our Scruffy City Hall at

Over the years, Market Square has developed into a venue that accommodates events ranging from concerts to political rallies.  Over the years, the Square has been a popular gathering place for artists, street musicians, war veterans, and activists.  Market Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.  

Knoxville's Market Square has been mentioned in the works of James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, David Madden, and Richard Yancey.  It has hosted performers ranging from Duke Ellington to Steve Winwood as well as politicians and activists.  Speeches have been made on the Square by such folks as Frances Willard, Booker T. Washington, William Jennings Bryan, Edward Ward Carmack, and Ronald Reagan. 

Just click on any of the photographs in order to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and visiting Knoxville’s Market Square and its Farmer’s Market!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. What a nice farmer's market and so much larger than the ones here in the mountains. I could spend several hours there.

  2. It's nice to see how the square has been reborn and even used for it's original purpose.

  3. It is great to see Knoxville's downtown area grow again --and become so vital... There was a time when the downtown area was truly dying.. We get the Knoxville news here --and there's always something going on downtown.. That is SUPER. We have yet to get there to the huge Farmer's Market... We have a small Farmer's Market here on Wednesdays--and it meets our needs since we only go for the fresh produce...


  4. Dave what an exciting day...I wish I could pay it a visit. I'd have a ball trying all those different foods and touring the town!

    In regards to the updates, I finally figured out how to fix the blog reader, so that probably explains all the recent posts we've put up appearing all at once.

    Have a great afternoon!


  5. I love this market David!
    Look really fun and beauty!