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Crowds flock to the Downtown San Rafael Farmer's market | © ftchris/Flickr
Crowds flock to the Downtown San Rafael Farmer's market | © ftchris/Flickr
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Get Fresh At Downtown San Rafael's Farmers' Market, California

Picture of Danielle Chemtob
Updated: 30 November 2016
On most days, San Rafael’s Fourth Street is an unassuming, bustling downtown stretch. But on Thursday nights from six to nine between May and September, the city’s pace slows down, and Fourth Street is alive with music, food and high spirits.

The Downtown San Rafael Farmers’ Market has been serving up this spirit for 27 years. Now with 75 vendors and three stages, its prominence has grown in the Bay Area farmers’ market scene over those years. But it’s not just size that makes the market unique.

Larry Boger of California Cookie Company showcases his cookies to customers at the San Rafael Farmer's Market © Danielle Chemtob
Larry Boger of California Cookie Company showcases his cookies to customers at the San Rafael Farmer’s Market | © Danielle Chemtob

‘It’s really a melting pot market, unlike any of the other markets we do,’ said Larry Boger of California Cookie Company, one of the market’s vendors.

The market’s diversity is evident both in its customer base and in its variety of vendors. From massages to dreamcatchers to banh mi, you can virtually find anything within the market’s boundaries. Its food trucks and booths are by far the most tempting – the scents of kettle corn, pupusas, Indian food, Thai food, and more waft through the air.

Customers can sample delicious Indian sauces at Namaskar Foods
Customers can sample delicious Indian sauces at Namaskar Foods | © Danielle Chemtob

The live music performances add a European ambiance. In addition to its own Farmers’ Market Band, the market showcases a variety of local acts on its stages, from African drums to tap dance.

Despite being in the evening, the event still draws hordes of families – and with horseback riding, bouncy houses, and arts and crafts, there’s no shortage of activities for the young ones.

The Redwood Country Cloggers, a Santa Rosa tap troupe, performs for market patrons.
The Redwood Country Cloggers, a Santa Rosa tap troupe, performs for market patrons | © Danielle Chemtob

Bilal Sabir, the owner of Delightful Foods, brings his whole family to the market when he comes to sell his baked goods, including his daughter Faruza, whose face is on the packaging for his signature vegan ‘No Cookie Cookie.’ She is an excellent saleswoman, offering samples to eager customers walking by.

Sabir said that the San Rafael Farmers’ Market is his favorite of all three markets that he attends.

‘People are out having a good time,’ he said. ‘They’re not just here to buy fruits and veggies. People aren’t in a rush.’

In the 37 years Sabir has been in business, he never cared for farmers’ markets. But his wife convinced him to try them out, and that’s how he landed in San Rafael – where he said he makes as much business in three hours as he does at normal markets in five.

Scott Wagner, Boger’s business partner at California Cookie Company, loves the farmers’ market atmosphere.

‘I like being able to interact with the customer base,’ Wagner said. ‘I love the face-to-face.’