A joyful playground just 10 steps from the merchant tents, soft chewy cookies the size of your face, and a snazzy indoor market component are just some of the things that make the popular Puyallup Farmers’ Market extra family-friendly every Saturday from April to October at Pioneer Park.
And this is coming from someone who isn’t even a farmers’ market person!!
I know! I’m terrible! But, hear me out. Because this particular farmers market, with its chatty/helpful community vibe, is conjuring up a major change of heart for this Washington newbie.
Puyallup Farmers’ Market is one of Washington’s largest – top five to be exact! While large, the seasonal event is more than just the 200-or-so small businesses who travel, steadfast and whole-heartedly, for miles and miles to bring their home-grown flowers, foodie concoctions, and colorful wares to one convenient community location.
Clara, Wyatt, and I ate the biggest, bestest peaches from Fernandez Farms in Sunnyside; scored not one but three gluten-free baked goods from Mama D’s in Auburn (still craving her gluten-free banana muffins a full week later); and we even made friends with a mom-of-five from Eatonville’s Dancing Bee Apiary & Bakery who harvests actual pollen morsels from the legs of tiny worker bees (!!!) to save her customers from the wrath of seasonal allergies.
I mean … that’s all pretty darn cool, right?!!
I say that with the written enthusiasm of two exclamation points because I don’t know what the heck is wrong with me for not loving the farmers’ markets of my California past.
Especially because I’m a huge #shoplocal fan. Except, bonus Tonya fun fact: I’m also someone who, coincidently, really hates grocery shopping. Like, hates. it. So I guess I’ve always thought of farmers’ markets as … well … maybe just fancy outdoor grocery shopping?
HOWEVER COMMA – Washington has shown me I’ve never been so wrong! Because guess what? The Puyallup Farmer’s Market wasn’t like grumpy, hungry, stressful outdoor grocery shopping at all!
It was music and families and carefree toddlers in little shoes dancing in the grass; it was a mom and daughter working side by side to make their marks on the world; it was surprisingly comforting chats with strangers on just how much wheat allergies suck and sellers popping up from behind Apple Pay tablets to hand you sweet-treat alternatives that mercifully don’t taste like wet cardboard.
It was nudging my kids to say thank you to the exceptionally kind young woman who sold them the prettiest single-stem sunflower so thoughtfully tied to a zip-top water bag so its petals kept their bright hue on the stuffy drive home. It was 6-year-old Wyatt asking for that girl’s name for the blog and seeing her smile in response (Hellooo, Kaci Lor from P&K Garden in Sultan! We heart you!).
It was even the kids using their cute, smudgy hands to exchange wrinkled dollars for ready-to-eat fruits carefully hand-selected by Wendy Fernandez, the farmer who grew them at Fernandez Farms in Sunnyside; it was watching Clara take that first big bite and having that juicy peach dribble down her chin and hearing her sweet little laugh about it.
And, it was talking with Gina Dugger (The ‘D’ in Mama D’s) about how the pandemic’s sudden public event halt led to her inventing a (now super-popular) gluten-free flour mixture for her online customers. (Psst: She sells it in person now, too).
Gina had the biggest, happiest smile and talked to the kids like actual human beings and then let them pick cookies from the tray behind the counter. Piling gluten-free muffins on top of her special-recipe loaves of bread, she kept saying “I just can’t help it, I love feeding people!” And I was officially smitten.
Her daughter, LeeAnna Kuhl at Niño Blanco Salsa in Auburn, joined our chat from the next tent over. And she was just the sweetest thing! LeeAnna and her husband, Jared, recently acquired a local salsa business and they’ve quickly turned it into a farmers’ market staple. The couple sells regular salsas plus fan faves like the extra-garlicky Vampire Salsa (absolutely loving that name btw). Plus she had the cutest stand with a red-and-white checked picnic table to boot.
Perks to Appreciate:
✦ The neat indoor component. Think twinkling string lights crisscrossed above handmade stands below – all stocked with funky garden art, funny birthday cards, and my cool new honey-harvestin’ mom friend Rhiannon in her bright blue scarf.
… Plus, have you seen Pioneer Park Pavilion? It’s an impressive architectural feat with huge glass window-walls that create an open-air shopping experience – naturally complimented, of course, with high ceilings and some neat-looking trusses on the outside roofline.
It’s overall nice inside (and out), and I bet it’s a welcome reprieve during crummy weather.
✦ Actual restrooms! Not having to wrangle tiny humans inside stinky plastic toilet jails is my new favorite thing as a mom. Clara even helped lift up Wyatt to reach the sink to wash his hands! (Mic drop – I have hit the height of parenting).
Restrooms are located inside the south end of the Pavillion and in a separate Pioneer Park structure east of the splash pad. Looks like some are getting an update in October!
✦ The Playground! This is the mom-hack of all mom-hacks! Yay for offering a slide 10 steps away from all the things to buy and actually finishing your one adult conversation for the day (w/your kids in sight).
✦ The interactive farmers’ market map online is the hands-down, coolest. Clickable squares situated around a map of the park lays out this entire event for you. Each square represents a vendor, bringing you all the intel on the business name, logo, a short bio, and its social media pages! That’s crazy handy, because, like most moms, I do a lot of things online. And you better believe I consulted the interactive map after our trip to find booths I spotted but didn’t walk up to (like that time I scooted Wyatt away from the dangly jewelry booth, for example).
✦ Puyallup Farmers’ Market Swag. There’s a table with all the official swag for sale (credit cards accepted). Represent! We saw tote bags (I got one), shirts, and hats. No surprise – the people there were friendly, too.
When fellow Tacoma blogger Rachel Teodoro (@msrachelteodoro) saw my Instagram Stories of the kids and me at the market, she said we just missed her! She told me she visits the market often, so I asked her what she loved about it:
“I actually like how many vendors are there. There’s always a good assortment of handcrafted and local items and lots of locally grown fruits, veggies and flowers! It’s easy to get to and easy to enjoy!”
Puyallup Farmers’ Market
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday in April through October, streets close to traffic as locals gather to sell homegrown flowers, food, and wares at Pioneer Park, 300 S. Meridian in Puyallup Washington.
IF YOU GO …
330 S Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371
Free parking, street parking
Organized by the Puyallup Mainstreet Association
SNAP/EBT funds and WIC and Senior FMNP accepted; SNAP Market Match funds provided; Leashed dogs welcome!
Well there you have it, folks. When it comes to things to do with kids in Washington, this Pierce County newbie is happy to report the Puyallup Farmers’ Market officially makes our list.
See you next time!