photos by Mackenzie Frank
There’s a place in downtown Dayton where you can munch on a Colombian arepa while you examine woven alpaca textiles, sample a French crêpe and pick up garden tools, or tuck into a New Zealand meat pie and peruse a selection of handmade jewelry.
All this and more is possible at Dayton’s 2nd Street Market, operated by Five Rivers MetroParks. The market, located in a historic former freight house, runs year round Thursday through Sunday. Open now for 30 years, the operation became part of the MetroParks system 15 years ago. Its mission to connect local growers with buyers and promote programs that encourage access to local food and organic products is realized with the market’s more than 50 carefully curated vendors. With a goal of zero waste, vendors are prohibited from using styrofoam, and the market features a recycling program with a compost initiative in the works.
What draws more than 300,000 visitors to the market every year? According to longtime manager Jimmy Harless, “Our vendors have a special relationship with their customers. There’s a trust. People who buy from these folks know they grew it, they produced it, they raised the animal.”
He continues, “We see the same faces every week, but we also have visitors from all over the world.” One of the vendors, Bellbrook Chocolates, displays a map studded with pins representing its customers’ home cities and countries. Says Harless, “We’re a destination for folks to take out-of-town visitors. We’ve got the best people-watching in Dayton.”
2nd Street Market
600 E. Second St.
Pittsburgh native Paula is a transplant to the Dayton area, and former dining critic for the Dayton City Paper. Her love of chocolate mousse knows no bounds.