Since 1990, the Seattle Fremont Market has been quite the event and despite its age, they still refer to it as an ongoing experiment that I think we can all safely say works. Unlike your traditional farmer’s market, this one is open all year round and features less fruits and vegetable and a lot more fun.
“We favor common sense, courtesy and intelligence over excessive bureaucracy. Our aim is to provide an accessible community marketplace for anyone who wants to sell their goods and try their ideas,” They say on their website. “Our goal is to help people succeed and make the experience here fun and rewarding for all. We ask for your understanding, cooperation and comments as the markets continue to grow, change and evolve.”
The Fremont Sunday Market features over 150 vendors bringing their A-game and an amazing selection of handmade crafts, street food, antiques, collectibles, vintage clothing, up-cycled furniture and world imports. The market it open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. each week rain or shine.
While this isn’t exactly a popularity contest, here are my top picks and booths worth a second glance at the market. What they sell is incredible and I found that these people are a lot of fun to talk to too. I can’t guarantee that they will all be at the market during your next visit, but I’ve included their website links just in case you miss them.
Pamela Rose and her cookies have been a fixture in Fremont since 2011 and since that time, she pretty much has perfected the simple cookie. Today, she bakes up over 40 different varieties of cookies and bars that in addition to the market, can be found in various local coffee shops. She says that she strives to make treats that not only taste delicious, but look great and are made sustainably. She tries to use palm oil products as little as possible (to protect rainforests and orangutan habitats), while using Eastern Washington’s Shepherd’s Grain Flour and Sky Valley Family Farm eggs in abundance. While many of the cookies are made the traditional way, others are gluten free and made with rice flour with a goal of making each cookie tasting like a cookie should.
Personally, what I think is the best cookie is also the most popular. The S’mores Bar has everything you like about the campfire treat with chocolate and marshmallow goodness atop a graham cracker crust. It’s huge too! Other choices include (but not limited to) Blackberry Cream Cheese, Chocolate Cherry, Blueberry Orange White Chocolate, Chocolate Crinkle, Chai Spice, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Snickerdoodle, Silly Sugar Whales and good ol’ Chocolate Chip.
Factory 305 gets their name from the area code for Key West Florida where shop owners Jerry and Kate used to live. What started out as a hobby as turned into a full time unique woodworking business. Using a CNC router, Jerry carves out his designs while Kate lends a hand painting. Together, they have produced a fantastic selection of wall art that just about everyone can appreciate. Their Star Wars/Aztec design is truly amazing with lots of attention to detail. But the pair also churn out other great designs including recreations of various beer logos, state signs, superhero logos (suitable for kid’s room or a local man cave) and even some great-looking pieces made from pianos! The day I visited, Kate showed me a fantastic shelf and cabinet that was made from a baby grand piano. If you like their work, but don’t see something that speaks to you, they will gladly work from your own design as well. “Whether it is our idea or a customer’s we have fun creating each and every one.”
Lost Commodity is a Seattle-based bag company dedicated to designing and producing quality goods that will only get better with time.
The story goes like this: after a night of waiting for the shuffleboard table to open up at a local watering hole, a small group of friends decided to design their own gear for an upcoming surf trip down to the Baja peninsula. The trip there and back was a rough one and sadly, the gear didn’t make it. However, that only strengthened their resolve to fix what went broken (with many, many prototypes) to create what they now are proud to call their Heritage Collection. Their stuff is pretty neat and definitely worth a stop.
Beth Ringland describes the art of Raclette Cheese as “food theater.” The process of scraping a variety of fatty Raclette cheese under fire originated in the Alpine regions of Switzerland and France as far back as 1291! Ringland brings her “theater” to the streets of Fremont heating halves of Raclette cheese under a direct heat source and then scraping the cheese and sliding it on new potatoes, seasonal vegetables or baguettes and served with cornichons and pickled onions (as is the tradition).
Sweatpea and Boy have been screenprinting infant, toddler and adult apparel in Tacoma since 2013 and when they come to the street of Fairmont, they come prepared! Each Sunday that feature a variety of original designs on many different colors and sizes to choose from. My favorite design by far is the Paramount logo redo using Mount Rainier as a stand-in and the word “Seattle” replacing Paramount in the same movie company font. I’m pretty sure you could wear this only only half of the people looking at would notice the difference between it and the original logo.
Sweatpea and Boy offer screenprinted images on super-soft t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, tank tops, sweatpants, hoodies, hats and patches. They offer many designs that can be printed on top with slogans and saying for Seattle, Tacoma, Edmonds and Portand. You’ll also find Northwesty graphics featuring the Space Needle, Husky-wear, 12th man needs and more.
Maria Benjamin is a delightful person. She quietly sits nearby as shoppers stop to look at her original, handmade greeting cards often getting a chuckle here and there. Unlike some vendors, she waits until people approach her and she actually encourages people to open her 3D cards to see how they “pop” up when opened. These are super impressive, but Maria told me that she doesn’t actually make the 3D cards (which when you see them, you’ll know why that’s an impossible feat) but every other card on display are lovingly created by her hands. She offers a variety of themed cards including birthday, graduation, baby, holidays, sympathy, friendship and more.
While we may not be sending as many cards out as we used to, Maria’s work will make you rethink that notion.
Another type of “food theater” comes from Chef Muhammad Fairoz A.R. and his partner, Katie Pohl. Together they literally roll gourmet ice cream and create sundaes that a work of art, but don’t stand around too long admiring it as it’s gonna melt. Fairoz and Pohl combine French custard ice cream recipes with the heritage of Thai-style street ice cream and create something magical.
Here’s the…scoop…they begin each flavor by pouring a fresh custard base onto an anti-griddle (which is extremely cold) and flip it around, chop it up, mash it really good, spread it out and then roll sheet of the perfect confection into sundae cups where the rolls are topped with a variety of deliciousness. And the flavors offered are just as unique as their pair. Flavors can change every week, but usually they offer a couple of favorites like S’mores Fun (chocolate base, graham crackers, marshmallow and shaved chocolate) and Like a Mango in the Sky (a Vanilla-Coconut base with Mango Purée, Sticky Rice and a Pineapple Cloud) along with a few adventurous choices like these recent offerings: Yuz Laughin’ At Me? (made with Lavender, Yuzu and pickled cucumber), Masala Spice & Everything Nice (made with Masala Chai, Papadum and Jeruk) and the Goaton Ramsay (made with Goat Cheese, Apple Grapefruit Compote and Tuile).
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.