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Try the Windmill Farm and Craft Market in Penn Yan, New York

© By George Bailey
  First, let's explain that name of a blink and you-miss-it village found near Watkins Glen, three hours from Niagara. It derived from early 1800 settlers from Pennsylvania who shortened, "Pennsylvania Yankee" to Penn Yan.
     For some, the bad news is that you won't have hotels, strip malls, McMuffins or Whoppers. This is rural country, and the good news is that you will find yourself smack in the middle of what was once a farmer's field. Here you'll discover one of the finest Farm and Craft Markets in New York State.
     The Windmill Farm and Craft Market celebrates its 24th year of operation this year. Parking and admission is free. The market is open 8:00 am to 4:30 on Saturdays. Staff member, Joe Servier said, "We double in population every Saturday from the end of April until the 2nd September in December".

 

     When we visited on April 30th, the first day of this year's operation, we discovered the unhurried joy of shopping at a Saturday Farmers Market. The Windmill, as the locals call it, has 200 shops spread over 11.7 hectares (29 acres). There are four buildings to explore and numerous vendors set up open air markets along the streets between the buildings. You find cheerful, friendly people who sell all kinds of interesting material. Don't be in a hurry; there are lots of items to purchase that will help empty your wallet.
     Some of our favourites were Whipple's General Store. Julie and Jerome Whipple sell heritage Products that families have used for over 130 years. Many such as Raleigh Products, Fuller Brush and Watkins products were originally sold door to door. At Young Hill Ostrich and Emu we marveled at the variety of products made from these two giant birds. Judy and Rich Gauger of Wind Sensations have been selling their flags and windsocks for many years at the market. Rich said, "This is such a fun place to be. Many of our regulars over the years have become friends." My friend especially loved the quilts found in The Quilt Room. They were all handmade and reasonably priced. Dick Panneitz is a gifted woodcarver who owns Luck 13 Woodcrafts. Check out his selection of doll furniture for Barbie dolls. My granddaughter will love them.
     You won't go hungry at the market. Dozens of vendors serve up aromas of freshly baked goods, and cheeses that will whet your appetite. Our noses carried us straight to Stoltzfus Pastries where an Amish family was selling fresh pies. Their mini blueberry and peach pies made from scratch were a steal at $2.50 each. A word of advice: be sure to buy the baked items while you're there. Don't hope to come back later in the day when they're gone. Check out Phinn's for a more substantial meal. The various hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches and red and white hots are delicious. And how could you turn down the Polish Princess Pierogi Palace? (The musical speech was pleasant to hear.)

Chow Time  Happy Shoppers  Market Wares  Spicey Lady  Market Sign

     We were a bit early for the fruit and vegetable vendors. Roughly 15 different producers have fresh flowers, tomatoes, sweet corn, melons, peppers garlic, potatoes, squash and many more as the season progresses.
     After a splendid morning of browsing and eating (and buying) we travelled (allowing Amish horse and buggies lots of room) a lovely rolling peaceful country road to nearby Dundee, a charming mellow village of handsome Victorian buildings with bell towers, gables and steeples. We couldn't resist stopping at a place called The Crocodile Mercantile found on Dundee's tiny main street in a mid 1800's building. It's now a music store. This tiny village has 12 shops on Water, the main street.

George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.

Photo Credits
George Bailey

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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_Yan
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Penn_Yan
Churches & Synagogues: http://www.newyorkipl.org/about/member-congregations/
Fiction: http://www.neurology.org/content/58/5/833.short
The Windmill Farm and Craft Market: www.TheWindmill.com
3900 State Route 14A, Penn Yan or 313-536-3032
Directions: From the US border at Buffalo, take N.Y. State Thruway 190 east and then take Exit 42 (toll: $4.40) at Geneva, and follow State Route 14 South to Dresden. In Dresden, turn right on Route 54 to Penn Yan. In Penn Yan turn left on Route 14A. The Windmill will be on your right.
Travel Tip: No address? With a GPS, punch in "1 Main Street," and it often takes one to the centre of town where you can ask a local for specific directions.

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