For some it's the allure of fresh local vegetables. For others it's a coffee and a something baked. But for many it's a Sunday tradition.
The city's Sunday Farmers' Market & Bazaar has been operating for 37 years and drawing crowds of regulars. Despite a persistent drizzle, this week was no different — except it was the last chance to shop until the first Sunday in April.
The JFX overhead gave cover from the rain to vendors, who stocked their end-of-season tables with Christmas wreaths, meats, hot sandwiches, sweet treats and cider, as well the usual fall and winter vegetables.
It was the "crisp apples" that brought eight year old Jack Lahart out with his parents. They are his favorite.
His parents, Chris and Oleva Lahart, said they find something different every visit.
"We use it to inspire meals all week," said Chris Lahart said of the market, to which the family has been coming most Sundays for three years. This week, they hoped to find some good snacks and other items to eat during the Ravens game later in the day.
Others loaded their bags with $3 boxes of oranges and broccoli, $2.5 muffins, $2 popcorn and $25 flower centerpieces.
Cindy Wallace of Baltimore has been coming for years for "a variety of fresh veggies, and the mushrooms. You have to try the mushrooms."
She brought her friends Beth McGee and Ann Wearmouth, who live south of Annapolis and were sampling the market wares for the first time. "The cheese, the seafood, it all looks great," McGee said. Wearmouth nodded in agreement as she took a bite of danish.
The market regularly draws crowds of 5,000, and up to 8,000 during warmers months, said Mitch Case, a spokesman for the market, which is run by the city's Office of Promotion & the Arts. Officials try and expanded the offerings in recent years to include more artists' creations and other local goods such as homemade granola and soup.
This year, the market took on three farmers who grow all their produce within the city limits. 'We might try and expand that next year," said Case, adding that discussions of next season hadn't yet begun in earnest. They plan to talk to vendors to get input.
Mark Golliday of Gardener's Gourmet of Uniontown near Westminster said this season was a bit slower than usual. Maybe it was the colder weather some weekends. Maybe it was the economy.
He grows greens in greenhouses to keep the fresh offerings coming all year round. They can be found at the Waverly farmers' market on Saturdays in winter months.
Doug Woerner of Woerner's Orchards in Orrtanna, Pa., who was selling apples for $5 and $7 a bucket, said he's been a vendor at the market for 35 years. He agreed it was a bit slower this year, possibly because new vendors were added across the street and may be spreading customers thin.
But he still had interest in the red and green fruit on his table. Irina and Michael Rogozin of Pikesville filled an entire cart with his fruit. They are for jam and apple cake.
And added Michael Rogozin, "They're for eating."