Markets & Open Mic Nights

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          I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I decided to make a little blog post about the lovely day I had yesterday. I have been wanting to go to one of the Farmers Markets in Long Beach for months now. But, for one reason or another my schedule never seemed to work. However, this past Thursday I was finally able to go.

          I live in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach and every Thursday from 3:00 p.m. To 6:30 p.m. The market takes place off of Atlantic Avenue between Del Amo Avenue and San Antonio Avenue, where the old post office used to be.

          When I stepped out of my car, the smell of BBQ immediately filled my nostrils as I walked toward the twenty or so white tents. Music played in the background and the atmosphere was full of fun and excitement.

          There were a variety of vendors selling things from tamales and pupusas to corn. There were stands selling homemade chips and salsa, fresh bread, handmade soaps, bath salts, and oils, fresh honey and multiple grocery stands selling a variety of fruits and vegetables. There were bundles of fresh mint, sage, and spinach for only two dollars each. Some fruits and vegetables I didn’t even recognize but their bumpy texture kept me curious.

          What made me even happier besides the fresh produce was that the prices were extremely reasonable. At one stand they had a table with bags of potatoes, onions, squash, and zucchini for two dollars a bag or three bags for five dollars. I gladly took the bargain and bought three.

          At another stand I decided on plums and pluots. At the honey stand I bought an eight ounce jar of orange blossom honey, but only after the nice gentleman allowed my friend Jordan and I to try the other flavors. He handed us wooden Popsicle sticks and squeezed dollops of fresh floral and sage flavored honey. At the fresh popcorn stand I splurged on a bag of original kettle corn, but only after they generously offered me two samples of the caramel corn. I was hooked.

          I even learned about market money. If you run out of cash, all you have to do is go to the information booth and ask for them to exchange money on your debit card for wooden market money (it comes in fives or ones). I thought this was a very smart and not to mention cute idea. Holding the thin wooden token in my hand, I felt like a little kid again.

          I think the best part of the entire experience for me was how friendly everyone was. Not only was the group extremely diverse, but I was met with a smile from everyone. Each vendor was excited about their product, but not in an overbearing way that made you feel like you were being forced to buy something. You could try their products, ask questions, and continue leisurely along to decide if you wanted to come back to make the purchase.

          I loved the sense of community I felt and seeing all kinds of families and people from various walks of life that had come together to support local businesses. It made me excited to be a part of the Long Beach community and with each purchase I made, I enjoyed meeting and saying hello to the person who made the product, farmed the vegetables, and that had an emotional connection to their cause. It is overwhelmingly different than going to a grocery store or department store.

          What I love is that farmers markets take place in communities all over. All you have to do is find out the time and place and it is almost guaranteed that one will be nearby. If closeness isn’t an issue for you, you can always make a day out of traveling to a new city and exploring their farmers market- something I plan to start doing. I have been to the one in Huntington Beach and one in Abbot Kinney ,and they both have something different to offer.

          It is a great way to get out in the fresh air, and feel the sun. You can invite friends, family, or venture on your own meeting the locals. I encourage you to try it once, and perhaps you will end up like me, enjoying it so much that you plan to go next week… and the week after that… and the week after that (you get the picture).

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Market Findings:

          Garlic Rosemary Sourdough Bread (Old Town Baking Company in Rancho Cucamonga, CA), Kettle Corn, Orange Blossom Honey (Energy Bee Farm in Inglewood, CA) , garlic cloves, red potatoes, onions, zucchini and squash (Gayatan Family Farms in Chino, CA)


          After the farmers market my friend Jordan took me to an open mic at a coffee shop called Fox Coffee House off of Willow Boulevard in Long Beach. Sign ups began at 6:30 p.m. and the talent began around 7 ish. I was immediately taken by the quaint coffee shop. I have driven down Willow numerous times and don’t know why I never thought to venture in.

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I loved this quote. 

          But immediately upon entering I knew it would be a new favorite of mine. I could already picture myself retreating there during the semester when work and school get overwhelming, or to write a blog post or two. The menu was written on two square chalkboards, so they already had me there. I also liked that on a smaller chalkboard to the right of the register, they listed the names of the three baristas on duty; very personable. I decided on a blended latte and admired the delicious pastry case with brownies, cookies, and cheesecake.

          Jordan and I found our table and waited for it to begin. I noticed right away, the same sense of community from the farmers market, as well as a sense of family. The M.C., who I assume is the owner, spoke of the performers as being “regulars,” and “family.” I found that endearing. He spoke about all of them with respect and admiration, and it felt like a safe space. I wasn’t planning on speaking, and didn’t, but with his introductions I would have felt more than welcome.

          Now I have been to other open mic’s in Long Beach, all have their good qualities, but this one by far was my favorite. Not only was the talent exceptional and diverse, but it had an organized flow to it that didn’t feel forced. It felt like when families get together during holidays and everyone decides to contribute something entertainment. Multiple musicians performed, and people read their poetry. My favorite act was a duo that played the guitar and sang Spanish influenced tunes that made me want to get up and salsa around the room.

          I couldn’t help but notice how many people came in and said their hello’s, surely they come weekly. The open mics are both Thursday and Saturday nights.

         My evening turned out better than I expected. I got a new sense of the Long Beach community and felt even more at home. I met new people, and was exposed to two things that can now become part of my weekly routine- a little market and little open mic.  I’m sure if you dig a little, you can find a little bit of something good in your city too.

-Em

          P.S. Stay tuned for a more in depth series with great pics etc. of great farmers markets and open mics in long beach!


Take a Visit: 

Farmers Market’s in LB

  1. Thursdays (LB Uptown on Atlantic Avenue Avenue)                                                              3:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.
  2. Friday (LB Downtown on the corner of Third and Pacific Avenue)                                 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  3. Sundays (LB Southeast in SeaPort Marina)                                                                                  9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Fox Coffee House

437 W. Willow St., Long Beach, California 90806
(562) 912-4200

Monday: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Wednesday: CLOSED
Thursday: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm
Friday: 6:30 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 8:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 8:30 am – 7:00 pm

Open Mic, Thursday and Saturday Evenings

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