On the waterfront where steamboats from Cayuga Lake used to dock, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market has successfully anchored itself and has transformed a wasteland into Steamboat Landing. Built entirely by volunteer labor, the market has developed a former debris site into a beautiful, thriving community gathering place. Visitors can shop for fresh, local produce, or choose a handcrafted gift. They can listen to music while savoring a wide variety of international foods, while sitting at the picnic tables along the waterfront.
The market first opened for business in 1973 as a venue for local growers and craftspeople to sell their goods. The rapidly expanding market moved five times before settling in its current location. It opened a midweek market at the edge of Dewitt Park, in downtown Ithaca, and then added a Sunday market at Steamboat Landing. Recently a dock was built to accommodate local fishermen, people arriving by boat, and those who want a picturesque picnic spot.
The Ithaca farmer’s Market has continued to grow and prosper, often attracting well over 5,000 people a day. In 1999, market sales neared four million dollars. Today over 125 vendors sell at one or all of the three market days. What was originally an innovative way to sell local produce, crafts, and baked goods is now an Ithaca tradition.
1973 - opens on space near Agway
1974 - moves to old airport runway near Hangar Theater
1975 - moves to empty lot in Ithaca’s West End, erects rough frame structure
1976 - opens midweek market on Ithaca Commons
1985 - mid week market moves to Dewitt Park
1987 - market cooperative incorporates
1988 - leaves West End moves to parking lot at Cornell, then to empty lot on Ithaca’s North Side finds its current site and construction begins
1989 - market pavilion completed styled after 13th century European cathedral
1990 - Sunday market opens
1997 - dock constructed
1998 - celebrates 25 year anniversary, Easy Entry program begins, flooring completed
2000 - launches web initiative
2003 - celebrates it’s 30th anniversary
2004 - begins Thursday afternoon markets at the pavilion