The Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers’ market is open Saturday, April 27th, but there will be no farmers market during Shrimp Festival. May 3rd – 5th is the official Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, with a Pirate Parade on Thursday, May 2nd, to kick-off the weekend. This is the only Saturday of the year the farmers market is not open, unless there is a Tropical Storm Warning or higher issued for the Northeast Florida area. So, come on downtown and stock-up. You will need to double-up on your favorites to make it through May 11th, the day the farmers market returns, rain or shine.

Also, open Saturday and located adjacent to the farmers market is the Fernandina Beach Arts Market. Over 30 tents set up behind Pineland Bank on the corner of Atlantic and Eighth Streets. This is an outdoor venue for artists and crafters to show and sell their homemade wares. Look for stunning acrylic paintings, fine and whimsical jewelry, and oversized shrimp made from wood and palm fronds painted perfectly to adorn your front door for the festival. Books written by the talented Mr. Gibbs will be on exhibit. This is not the Mr. Gibbs who is Captain Jack Sparrow’s witty sidekick from the Pirates of the Carribean movie series. This is Steve Gibbs, author of the Java series of novels. You will also find on display Bearded Leather with their belts, wallets, handbags, glass wraps and more. Another amazing vendor on Saturday in the Arts Market is Reverse Glass by Gail.

Each hand painted piece has original artwork painted on the outside of the glass. Gail uses a reverse glass painting technique that face both the interior and exterior of the glass. This creates a piece of art that can be viewed and enjoyed from any angle and changes as you turn the glass. The paintings take on a three-dimensional quality when liquid is added to the glass. When the light is bent, the images are magnified. Facets and prisms built into the glass also bend the light and change the appearance. The non-toxic paint is UV-resistant and is permanently fused to the glass. It can be safely washed in dishwashers and heated in microwaves without harming the artwork. These are ideal gifts for Mother’s Day!

Back on North Seventh Street, the Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market is set up with over 45 booths. There is food, natural soaps, and plants like colorful baskets, herbs, orchids, terrariums, and landscaping plants. You will find seasonal produce, fresh baked breads, pastries, and desserts, and a new hot sauce vendor, Shade Time Artisan Hot Sauce. Two very popular vendors are back this week. Welcome the return of Hillary’s Chicago Pizza, and Rose’s An-believable Egg Rolls. Joy of Garlic returns this week, and so does JD Beef, who sells the Bicentennial product of the week.

Skilled cowboys and local ranchers, known as “crackers,” would have played a central role in supplying beef to Fernandina and surrounding communities 200 years ago. Raised on the open ranges of Florida, the cattle would be herded from neighboring grasslands to the trading post, where they would be sold or traded for other goods. 200 years ago, beef had no antibiotics, hormones, or steroids, and JD Beef does not use them today. Visitors to the trading post or market would have had the opportunity to interact directly with the ranchers, much like talking to Sandra and Danny Durrance at the local farmers’ market. This connection would have allowed consumers to learn about the origin of the beef they were purchasing, as well as the methods used in its production. Stop by JD Beef and ask about their ranch. They will have a full load of fresh beef, pork and chicken!

The Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market is located on N. Seventh Street, between Centre and Alachua, in historic downtown. Nestled under the Spanish moss draped oak trees and architecture of yesteryear, feel free to throw a blanket on the lawn, do a little shopping and enjoy a morning spent listening to local musician, Jenn Burns.

The Wildlight Market Place will be open with food booths and arts and crafts, on May 4th. The arts and the farmers market will return to Fernandina Beach on May 11th. Remember, there is no farmers market during the Shrimp Festival.