Whether the Farmers Market provides your weekly fresh-ev-erything fix, or is your once-a-year opportunity to prove that you can still negotiate downtown Dallas, check it out on Monday, June 24th-Junior Fanners Day. The annual competition between budding Old MacDonalds, ages 9 to 18, shows the market at its liveliest and offers all the fruits and vegetables that make it a year-round civic treasure. The kids haul in their loot early that morning, all hoping their strawberries will be judged the juiciest, their cucumbers too cool for words. The contest is divided into three categories: fruit, vegetables and “junior gardener,” which is for the city kids who otherwise might be growing miniature skyscrapers. Ribbons, trophies and $1,260 in prize money are duly awarded the victors, but even the winners will tell you that the “oohing” and “ahhing” is the real pay dirt. And in case you’re more acquainted with the crack of noon than the crack of dawn, take comfort-the Junior Farmers judging doesn’t get under way until about 9 a.m.
For those who don’t consider the morning sun an unidentified flying object, the Farmers Market opens at dawn Monday through Saturday, and obviously the morning pickings are choicest. But the four pavillions that constitute the main market remain open at least until dusk (often during the summer certain stands are open around the clock) and the quality of the produce remains high, although your options may diminish with the fading light. Most of what you’ll want you’ll be able to get throughout the summer, but each month does have its specialties. June is particularly good for new potatoes and black-eyed peas; in July, you’ll find the best of the East Texas watermelons; and cantaloupe, peaches and plums remain exceptional in August. The Farmers Market is located at Pearl and 1-30, just south of downtown, and can be reached by taking Central Expressway south to downtown; turn left at Pearl. Parking is free.