The spring evening’s still warm, and the lights stretching between the buildings slowly begin to twinkle against the gently purpling sky. A one-block section just off Main Street has changed from a way to get to the back entrance of Kelsey Creek Brewing Company to an artisan market filled with tables and people. An old Airstream trailer frames one end, where Jacob Weldon, his long hair covered by a cowboy hat, sits on a stool next to an ornamental cactus, playing original tunes on his guitar. Smiling couples and families chat with friends, browse the tables, and sample food.
Sabrina Andrus, owner of A+H General Store and maker. roams the side street, a big smile on her maskless face. “This is a new thing for me,” she says, referring to the novelty of being outdoors with other people and no masks. “It feels a bit weird.” She and her sister Caitlin are the co-visionaries behind the market and have created a place where people can enjoy high-quality, locally crafted goods. It’s not a farmers’ market, though there is produce, and it’s not a craft fair, though there are candles and soap. Instead, it’s a market for the many artisans that live in Lake County. The sisters are proud to note that everything sold at the market is grown, produced, or made here in Lake County.
“This is great! I’m so happy to be at an event that’s not virtual,” I tell her, grateful to be somewhere other than stuck at home. “And I love the Airstream.”
“It’s turned out well,” she replies. “Fingers crossed, we’re going to expand. I want to make it a place where people can hang out for a while. I’m thinking of food trucks. And,” she continues, “my sister Caitlin got the Airstream and had ideas of a popup shop, but then Covid hit.” Caitlin owns the clothing stores Oak and Pine just across the street. “But we found the perfect use for it as a backdrop.”
A few steps away, Abby Leutholdt of Playflight Farm and Bakery stands behind her table, wooden tongs in hand. “Would you like a gougere?” she asks, referring to the small bundle of savory goodness in the tong’s grasp. “We’ve already sold out, and Arnaud had to bring me a new batch.” I take a bite. The gougere’s delicate with a perfect balance of flavor and crunch. But everything Playflight makes is high-quality. They use organic ingredients and lots of skill to create delicacies like dark cherry financiers with elderflower-soaked cherries and saffron orange madeleines.
Trudy and I pick up a little bit of everything, then wander over to Dejulius Family Farm’s booth, where Joe Eckhart and Kerly have a spread of apricots, fennel bulbs, and various fruits and vegetables. Everythings bright, fresh, and grown on their 2-acre farm. Sitting at the front of the table are bottles of Joe’s handmade hot sauce. Aged 5-6 months in probiotic fermentation, it’s incredibly flavorful. Joe uses only homegrown peppers, salt brine, and apple cider vinegar. Kerly smiles broadly, happy to be at the market. “We like to offer seasonal food that you can’t buy in the store,” she says. It’s all perfect, and Trudy and I leave with a bag full of apricots, fennel, and a bottle of hot sauce, which I can’t recommend enough.
Jennifer Gayda of Bottlerock Candle Studios stands a few tables down, chatting with people looking at her delicate candles. “Usually, candle sales go down in the summer,” she tells Trudy as we talk. “But they’ve been selling well for me. I can hardly keep up with the business.” A customer comes by, bends over, and sniffs one, and Jennifer starts up a conversation with her.
We wander over to Melinda Price’s table at Peace and Plenty Farm. Melinda’s selling saffron teas, saffron-infused shortbread, and saffron flavored drinks. Trudy and I pick up a bag of saffron cacao tea, pungent and earthy. “It’s a great stimulant,” Melinda says.
Our hands full, we head to a table and pull everything out. It’s a cornucopia of goodies. But where to start? I take a bite out of an apricot, letting the juices fill my mouth, then move on to a madeline. I savor each flavor. That’s the fun of hanging out at the market; there’s always something new, exciting, and high-quality to enjoy.
The Kelseyville Side Street Market runs the last Thursday of the month through September from 6-9 Be sure to head by and pick up high-quality goods from some of Lake County’s best artisans.