In the Market for Kenosha Fun

11/13/2017 - Nancy Davies

Kenosha Winter HarborMarket - Rhode Center for the Arts
Kenosha Winter HarborMarket - Rhode Center for the Arts
Kenosha Winter HarborMarket - Rhode Center for the Arts
Kenosha Winter HarborMarket - Rhode Center for the Arts

Apples, pie, baked goods, birthday gift…oh hi! I was just going over my shopping list for a visit to the Kenosha Winter HarborMarket. Just like the spring/summer outdoor event, I go on Saturdays to find many wonderful foods, fresh grown fruits and vegetables, and craft items, all while listening to live music. While this indoor winter version can’t have as many vendors as the summer event each week, I counted 25 or so on a recent Saturday. Vendors rotate each week, often coming every other week, so there is always a great variety. When you see a vendor you want to buy from again be sure to ask when they’re next scheduled to appear, or check the weekly map of vendors on the Kenosha HarborMarket website.

The winter market season began about a month ago and on my recent visit I picked up marinated garlic mushrooms, something I usually have difficulty finding except at HarborMarket, as well as apples and pie. I sampled foods, listened to the jazz music by the Pat Crawford Band, and talked with vendors. As I wandered around the historic Rhode Center for the Arts, I saw others seated at tables enjoying a snack they’d purchased, too. It definitely is the place to be on Saturdays when you’re in the Kenosha Area. Usually home to the Lakeside Players and their community theatre productions, this building has a long history of serving the community. Much of the lobby décor is original from when the theatre was rebuilt (after a fire) in the late 1920s. Look up at the focal point of four unique crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, let your eyes wander over the decorative tiles on the walls that were made in Seville, Spain, and peak behind vendors to find the six ceramic benches that tell the story of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, each with a different scene. A closer exploration of them will need to take place another time when you attend a performance at the theatre, but it’s fun to try to spot them at the market.

After I made my initial round of the venue, I began to chat with those selling goods. As I love to knit, though my skills are just okay at best, I was naturally drawn to the Jazzy Designz table. The owner, designer, knitter was there with her granddaughter and she was knitting her next piece that would go on sale. She took a long break from knitting while raising her children, but five years ago she picked up her needles again and hasn’t looked back as she created this business of hats, scarves, and more. Cold weather is here, so I recommend a stop by this vendor.

Seeing a woman and man wearing rabbit ears made me stop at the Cottontail Shoppe. This couple makes all of the cruelty-free bath bombs, soaps, and more they sell. Their items turn your home bathroom into a spa. Near this table, I spotted another one filled with dog treats by B&J’s Pampered Pup Bakery; on another there were sauces, dips, and salsas for sale (I’m a sucker for Mango Salsa). There were beautiful vegetables and meats (duck, anyone?). And if you buy a lot but forget to bring a bag, Willows Keep has free-trade basket woven totes for sale, made by women from Africa; I loved them all.

On my latest visit, I also bought the earlier mentioned garlic pickled mushrooms from River Valley Kitchens – their bestselling of their pickled mushrooms, though other flavors include regular, dill & garlic, and spicy. Their mushroom farm is located on the edge of Kenosha County – began by the owner’s father who owned a restaurant. He tired of not being able to easily find mushrooms, so he began the farm, which has been continued by his son who also owns a Chicago restaurant.

You see, there is a great story that goes along with each vendor at the market. This is a place where small businesses get their start. Popular venues in Kenosha had humble beginnings at Kenosha HarborMarket years ago – Robin’s Nest Cakery, Sandy’s Popper and Elsie Mae’s, to name a few.

The indoor market runs through May 5, then it HarborMarket will return to its outdoor location for the summer. During the next several months, in addition to the sellers already mentioned, you’ll also encounter fresh fish sellers, local meat and cheese vendors, and more. Come for the shopping, stay for the music and social atmosphere. Just please save me a seat - I’m a delightful winter market companion!

Nancy Davies

Community Blogger

A Kenosha County transplant 10+ yrs. ago, Nancy and her husband love the friendly, beautiful atmosphere of Kenosha. Enjoying finding the hidden gems of the area, she also enjoys being by the lake!