Tuesday, July 30, 2013

St. Jacob's Market - Waterloo

Not so captivated by the giant sausage as I though she might be.
St. Jacob's Market is a large farmer's market and flea market type place located just outside of Waterloo. So, about a 90 minute drive from Toronto.  Not all kids like things like farmer's markets but my kids have a pretty high tolerance for wandering around looking at meat and cheese so long as I ply them with cookies and other market treats.  
You know Nana bought those cookies.
And the mini doughnuts!
It helps to have Nana along who is even more free and breezy with the purse strings. Then they love the farmer's market!  You can get just about any foodstuff at the market including meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, bread, dog biscuits, cakes and pies, samosas - you name it.  You can also find flowers, plants, crafts, trinkets, doodads, and whatnot.  You can even get your hair cut at the market.  

We did actually buy some vegetables, not just cookies and donuts and giant sausages on buns.
There are two main buildings to the market.  One is almost all food, although the upper level has non food vendors.  The other building has more flea market type stuff along with some food.  This is also where they hold the animal auctions although their website does not mention that so I can't tell what the schedule is.

Checking out old magazines and comic books in the flea market section.
Somehow, the farmers from around the market seem to know since lots show up on auction day.  My kids got a kick out hearing the auctioneer so it is worth checking to see if there are any on the day you are there.

Outside the two buildings are rows and rows of more vendors.  This is where most of the fruits and vegetable vendors are located along with lots of others.  There are also several food trucks and chip wagons in this area.  
Trying out the wares at the outside part of the market.
St. Jacob's Market is right in the middle of the Mennonite community so there are lots of Mennonites working at the booths which my kids always like.  They like seeing the women in their dresses and the horse and buggies out in the horse and buggy parking lot.  If you are not from the area you may have to explain why the women wear the long plain dresses and hair bonnets to your kids.  You can also take a horse drawn wagon ride around the Mennonite farms in the area.

Across the street from the Market is an outlet mall.  This is deathly boring to children except for the Lego outlet which has tables set up where they can build while you look around the store.
More treats.  This time a fancy lemonade.  
If you go up the road a ways you can also visit the town of St. Jacob's which has lots of knick knack shops and other fun places to look around in.  Be warned though, the restaurants in town are much more expensive than the market and they tend to be crowded at peak times.

Cousins riding the train to St. Jacob's
You can take an honest to goodness train to St. Jacob's from Waterloo if you happen to live in the area or don't mind parking your car in Waterloo.  We did this a couple of years ago for my dad's birthday and it is hard to say who liked it more, the kids or my dad.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • The market is only open Thursdays and Saturdays during part of the year.  In the summer they are also open on Tuesdays.  
  • It can get really busy at the market and it gets busier as the day goes on usually.  If you are going with kids, I would suggest going earlier in the day before the crowds get too big.  Also, if you are going to actually just buy food rather than eat and putter (like me!) you should go early so you don't have to elbow people out of the way to get to the counters.
  • There are not a lot of vegetarian options (or halal) at the vendors at the market.  You may end up eating french fries for lunch if you don't like meat.  

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