The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market, a staple in the fabric of our community, celebrated it’s 18th anniversary on Thursday, July 20. The open-air market which has been situated on the intersecting streets of Meridian Ave and El Centro, brings hundreds of people not just from our town, but from a variety of neighboring communities.
For close to two decades, this incarnation of a farmers’ market has boasted some of the best quality produce, delectable treats and unique live entertainment. Having come here since I was a kid myself, I have nothing but the fondest of memories.
To many South Pasadenans, Thursdays in town are something to look forward to all week. The air is thick with a vast array of enticing scents from a number of food vendors and flower stands, while the musical stylings of buskers fill the atmosphere with melody.
One of those vendors in particular stands out as a local favorite, Nana’s Chips and Salsa. Started by Lupe “Nana” Cordova, the stand has been a long-time mainstay at the market from the very beginning. Personal highlights include their nachos and freshly made guacamole, with their spicy salsa receiving honorable mentions. However, Nana says she has to owe it to her cooks, like Ana Maria, without whom she says she is nothing.
A very humble and sweet woman dedicated to her craft and this community, Nana says of her time at Farmers’, “I consider everyone here my second family. I’ve loved the time I’ve spent here; I’m sure I make boos boos sometimes, but I know you all are forgiving ( laughs ), I love you all and thanks for the support over the years.”
Another vendor that stands out as a favorite is Bill’s Bees, started by longtime bee and honey enthusiast, Bill Lewis, who runs the stand with his brother. It can be safely assumed that approximately 99% of all residents at one time or another have had at least one honey stick from Bill’s. Bill says his time here from the beginning has been nothing short of wonderful, treating both kids and parents alike.
Not all the glory goes to those who are tried and true, as some newer stands have packed a flavorful punch as well, one of these being Mama Musubi, whose spam and salmon musubi are both a must-try. With new cuisine being introduced into the market all the time, many of the younger crowd begin to swarm. Suzy Cruz, who works at Mama Musubi says that ” At times it gets so hectic here, the line can just go on and on.”
The festivities didn’t just end at food and music, as children also enjoyed both a scavenger hunt as well as an illustrious performance by Harvey Magician.
The market has seen many vendors and performers come and go; some of them have stayed through the years whilst others have been lost to the sands of time. I would like to take this moment to honor those that I miss so dearly, The California Cheese stand and their incomparable sharp gouda, the sautéed garlic mushrooms at Robin’s, and of course King (or prince, the title escapes me ) Bernard and his steel drum that always made my day.
After almost twenty years I say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the vendors, musicians, and many others who have made this an essential piece of South Pasadenan culture, and say cheers to many more years.