The weather is warming up in San Luis Obispo and a spring evening is perfect for a stroll through SLO-town's vibrant downtown core. And what better time to go than a Thursday evening, to catch the remarkable Thursday Night Farmers Market. “The market attracts people from every walk of life – college students, families and visitors, and city officials appreciate the impact the Farmers Market has on the local economy,” says Diana Cotta of the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, which organizes the Thursday Night Farmers Market.
I make it a point to visit every time I'm in SLO. Not because I need the veggies, but because the event is a real window into the town's character. On the surface, it features fresh, locally grown produce, food vendors, arts and crafts, informational booths, and entertainment. It's all pretty family-friendly, especially in summer when it stays light so late.
But underneath, its really like a giant town hall meeting, without the debates and backed by fragrant aromas of barbecue. There's always a dash of politics–sometimes including a few real characters—so you'll usually find someone with a booth declaiming or promoting some issue, local or otherwise. Local heroes and important issues are celebrated, with Fire Prevention Night, Law Enforcement Night, Mother’s Day Flower Give-a-Way, Downtown Brown’s Birthday, Halloween Events, and even The Great Pumpkin contest. Want to know what they care about right now in SLO? Come to the market.
Of course, you won't go hungry, either. Street food here is amazing: ribs, chicken and sausages, pizza, vegan food, slow roasted corn-on-the-cob, crepes, tamales, churros, and strawberry desserts. And the scene is always lively: entertainment ranges from local dance groups, live bands, solo artists, climbing wall, to a bounce house.
So when you head to SLO town for a wine country weekend or to pick up your student from college, don't forget to linger on a Thursday night, for a look at the real character(s) of San Luis Obispo.
Details: San Luis Obispo’s Farmers Market (open 6-9 p.m. every Thursday, except for Thanksgiving) occupies six blocks on Higuera Street, between Osos and Nipomo Streets. To help plan a getaway to San Luis Obispo County, call the San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau at 800/634-1414 or visit www.SanLuisObispoCounty.com.