Boise Festivals and Events

Capital City Public Market - Still the Place to Hang on Saturday Morning

For years the Capital City Public Market, sometime referred to as the Saturday Market, chugged steadily along. But 2013 is a bit of a transition year for the mature market, and I'm curious how it's going to change. For starters, the longtime market director was canned for failing to pay taxes on employees, keeping sloppy records, and having overall poor business practices. At least that what the local oracle, otherwise known as the Idaho Statesman, reported. With a new director in place, it's anybody's guess as to what this new director is going to do to make her mark. I've suggested trapeze artists and dancing girls on The Grove, but she's yet to return my calls. The market is also rebounding from the Great Farmer Schism, where a large contingent of hippie crop growers wanting to get back to their farm-to-market basics broke away to create the new Boise Farmers Market. Then there's the fact that the large pit smack dab in the middle of the market's main drag, the infamous black-eye landmark most folks referred to as the Boise Hole, is currently being filled with what will soon become be Boise's tallest building. So, yeah, things look a little different this year.

Still, I'm venturing a guess that the market will be as good as usual this year, and perhaps even better. New leadership can keep things from getting stale, even if they don't take my advice. And despite the vendor departures, the market's artisanal heart remains, along with its super prime location. And as for the Boise Hole, well, good riddance, although the paintings they had on the privacy walls was nice way to make art out of farts.

For those folks new to these here parts, the Capitol City Public Market was founded in 1994 and now covers six prime blocks of prime urban real estate. After being tucked neatly in the quaint and cozy 8th Street corridor for many a year, the market has grown in the last few years to include a couple blocks on Idaho Street as well. This newfound space immediately increased the number of vendors, which of course has increased the variety of things for sale.

Berries, berries, berries

The producers and artisans at the market offer a wide variety of products, depending on the time of year and what is in season. You'll find local vegetables, herbs, fresh and dried fruits, flowers, wine, honey, meats, bread, salsa, and lots of other stuff to take home to the kitchen. If arts and crafts are your thing, there's plenty of that, too. Just look around and you'll discover glassware, paintings, photography, handbags, jewelry, and even walking sticks. And if all that strolling and browsing makes you hungry, you can stop and grab some crepes, donuts, kettle corn, or other treats to eat on the go. If you've been to outdoor markets in places such as Portland or Missoula, the Boise Saturday market will look familiar.

One thing you won't find at this market, however, is cheap Chinese trinkets. The market's management group requires that all the products for sale are locally produced. In fact, produce vendors must grow at least 75% of what they sell, and anything else they sell must still be of local origin. In addition, all artisanal products must be handmade. This emphasis on fresh and local products makes this market a truly Boise experience, much like floating the river or Alive After Five.

I have nothing nice to say so I'll say nothing

Even if you don't buy a thing, the market is a great place to meet friends, people watch, and enjoy the Boise life. You'll find musical performers every half block or so. Speaking of which, you might even see David Crosby selling gladiolus flowers. I heard the musical scene just wasn't doing it for him anymore, so he turned to growing flowers. Legal ones. There's also a chance you might see a religious fruitcake making some kind of a statement and being totally ignored by everyone. That's good comedy, folks.

There are also activities and entertainment for the whole family on the Grove Plaza. When June rolls around and the late mornings begin to get warm, you'll find scores of kids playing in the fountain on the Grove. There's room for you in there, too.

Event: Capital City Public Market
Where: 8th Street from Bannock to the Grove, and Idaho Street from Capitol to 9th.

View Capital City Public Market area in a larger map
When: Saturdays, April 20 thru December 21, 9:30am-1:30pm
Cost: Free to attend
Website: Capital City Public Market
Why I love it: It's fun to count how many people with dogs go right by the "No Dogs at the Market" signs.