Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market and The Great Allentown Fair of Lehigh Valley
Video released on: October 22, 2012
Tracy Werner: Welcome to this episode of Lehigh Valley visions. As someone who was born and raised in Allentown, I’m excited for today’s tour, because it features two local traditions. The Allentown fairgrounds farmers market and the great Allentown Fair.
Tracy Werner: The Allentown fairgrounds farmer’s market is a local tradition that dates back to the late 1800s, before the supermarkets we know today existed; when the cities residents purchased their fresh goods directly from the farmer. Today it has over sixty merchants selling everything from meats, poultry and produce to baked goods, seafood and candy in a 90,000 square foot building next to the fair’s grandstand. But beside the fresh food, another reason that faithful customers come here every week is for the atmosphere. The energy of the busy walkways. The warmth of the merchants. And the camaraderie of the long time customers. And if you listen closely, you just might catch a vendor or customer speaking Pennsylvania dutch.
Tracy Werner: We are here with Bubba from Heckenberger’s Seafood, a tradition here at the fairgrounds farmers market. Tell me what your number one best seller is.
Bubba: That would probably be our north Atlantic salmon.
Tracy Werner: And I see you have quite a variety of recipes here that people can help themselves to; when did you start doing that?
Bubba: Oh, about three or four years ago. You know they’ve got salmon recipes, you got stuff for crab salad, for your scallops, scallop recipes, just about anything you want.
Tracy Werner: What’s your personal favorite dish?
Bubba: Mine, I like everything, I like everything really, I like Mako Shark probably the best.
Tracy Werner: Stormy, I love that when I come to the fairgrounds farmer’s market I can pick up basically everything I need for dinner, including the wine.
Stormy: Absolutely, its a wonderful thing to be able to get your entire meal, buy local, it’s all wonderful. In fact every month I do a wine and food pairing here. Typically it is the second Saturday of the month. I pair one of our wines with a food item or two from different vendors in the market.
Tracy Werner: This is a bonus of doing these videos. Who knew I’d be drinking wine today?
Stormy: Well, we knew.
Tracy Werner: Thank you so much Stormy, I appreciate it.
Stormy: You are welcome. Thank you. And again, if people haven’t been to the market, they don’t know what they are missing.
Tracy Werner: Tell me what the most unique thing you sell is.
Mr. Bill: Well our most popular thing that we sell is our chicken and turkey sausages. We have over thirty different kinds of chicken and turkey sausage. We do many different kinds of chicken and turkey burgers, they are all unique recipes to us, like apricot jalapeno, chipotle cheddar, zesty cilantro, those kind of things.
Tracy Werner: Now Mr. Bill, you have been a vendor here for over twenty years. What advice would you offer to a newcomer to the farmers market?
Mr. Bill: The main thing is, shop the entire market. We have two poultry stands here, we have five meat stands, you might see something that you like at my stand, but you would certainly see something that you like at the other stands also. So you just want to shop the whole market, They are all owner run businesses, you get to meet the people. We build relationships in here. And a first timer, they want to see where they feel comfortable and that’s where they want to shop.
Tracy Werner: The Allentown fairgrounds farmers market is open year round Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except for a couple of days in August and September during the great Allentown Fair. When this large parking lot goes from this to this.
When I arrive at the reat Allentown Fair, I don’t know where to start first. The rides, the games, the exhibits or maybe the food. I guess I know where I’m starting. Check out food stands like Take a Taco, Vince’s Cheesesteaks, Smitty’s fries, Leiby’s Ice Cream, and the Brass Rail that are all fair traditions.
Tracy Werner: There are rides for kids of all ages and games of skill.
Tracy Werner: I’m here with my friend Kate and we are at the high striker game and we are gonna have a competition to see who can ring the bell. Okay Kate, you’re up.
Kate: Better luck next time Trace.
Tracy Werner: Congratulations Kate you win.
Tracy Werner: It’s easy to see why the midway gets all the attention with the tasty nosh and the bright lights. But the great Allentown Fair actually has a very rich history that dates back over 150 years to when it was started as an agricultural fair. The Lehigh County Agricultural Society operates the annual fair and the entire 46 acre fairground site. As part of it’s overall mission to advance the agriculture, horticulture and livestock arts, you can experience the live judging of the animals raised by local farmers and 4H youth. Including everything from goats and pigs to rabbits and pigeons. Kids can get up close and personal with nature in the barnyard petting zoo and at hands on exhibits.
Tracy Werner: We are trying to get an exclusive interview with one of the livestock. Here is Mr. sheep. Mr. Sheep, what did you think about the judging? Did you think it was fair?
Tracy Werner: I guess not.
Tracy Werner: Livestock not quite your thing? That’s okay, wander into Agriplex and check out all the award winning pies, cakes, cookies and other baked goods that got blue ribbons this year. But be sure not to try them, they are for admiring only, right?
Lady at stand: Right.
Tracy Werner: Also judged are handcrafted items, fresh fruits and vegetables, and even wine. It’s worth mentioning that Agriplex is a year round facility that can be rented for trade shows, conferences and special events.
Tracy Werner: Now that the tour is winding down, I think I’m going to check out the rides starting with a spin on this Ferris Wheel. Thanks so much for joining me for this episode of Lehigh Valley visions.