Already the scene of so much growth, downtown Bakersfield is checking another item off the list with the launching of Food, Farm and Flea Market. No ordinary farmers market, this new weekly gathering off G Street will be a nexus for farmers, food vendors and antique and vintage dealers looking to share in the area's bounty.
Jaclyn Allen, who runs The Hens Roost, which organizes the ongoing Saturday Brimhall and Sunday Haggin Oaks markets, said customers have been clamoring for more downtown. For the last year, The Hens Roost has been operating a Wednesday market day inside their kitchen, which produces a variety of nut butters and prepared salads and meals.
Regular Wednesday visitors wanted another market day downtown but Allen said it "takes a lot of momentum."
And some buy-in from current vendors. Many of the regular Saturday vendors will have a presence at both Brimhall and downtown, with an opportunity to expand, like a citrus vendors that is also now selling fresh juices.
Among the 30 vendors — a mix of farms, vintage dealers and street food/cold pack items — will be Murray Family Farms, which will be new to these markets, and Poke Express, a new food stand serving fresh authentic Hawaiian poke bowls. (Allen said they sold out at their first market outing held last Friday.) The market will take over the parking lot facing out from The Hens Roost.
This new venture also allows the market team to grow, with the addition of more vintage dealers.
Jennifer Meiners, who runs three booths at the Mill Creek Antique Mall on 19th Street, said she's excited to be on board. She's work with Allen as a market vendor and reached out to her fellow mall booths to join this Saturday venture.
"She's great with her events and stuff so I'm all for it," Meiners said.
Meiners said she specializes in rustic "mantiques," old wood items and tools with a more masculine feel. She also sells farmhouse and shabby chic-style wares.
As well as selling, Meiners is looking forward to shopping and chatting.
"This is why I do this. I love to sit and talk to customers."
Other Mill Creek vendors on board will bring comic books, records, vintage toys and collectibles, glassware, pottery and global art. There should also be some smaller furniture items like dressers and side tables, Meiners said. For larger items, customers can head over to the mall to see more furniture.
Allen is thrilled to have such a variety of vendors, noting "I don't want to drive to Pasadena to go to the Rose Bowl (Flea Market). I want to buy vintage Ts and cowboy boots in Bakersfield."
For the kickoff event, Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales will be on hand along with the Gay & Lesbian Center of Bakersfield, a dog rescue group and some nonprofits.
And this market is no flash in the pan, Allen said. Now in the peak grow season, this Saturday market is committed to continue weekly through October.
"This is crazy fun," Allen said. "We're moving in the direction we need to. My goal long-term is that we have so many vendors that we have to shut down the street."