Windmill keeps turning until Dec. 12
Since 1987, a mere 22 years ago, the Windmill Farm and Craft Market has been drawing crowds like a cross between a country fair and a shopping mall.
Every Saturday, from April through December, plus Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, local shoppers and visitors from all over the globe have been treated to the most lively shopping experience this side of the bazaars of Casablanca.
Now with four enclosed buildings to compliment the more traditional open-air market, the Windmill is a pleasure even in the colder seasons.
Not that a brief chill or the occasional shower could deter the serious bargain hunters who make it their weekend destination. Even in the “Street of Shops” most of the vendors are in enclosed individual buildings and are happy to welcome everyone no matter the weather.
Largely, we Americans have given up the practice of haggling, preferring the genteel marked price, but more than once I noticed the older habit of negotiating a better deal in the subtle give-and-take that has always been at the heart of country commerce.
With almost two hundred shops, the variety at the Windmill is stunning!
Food of every kind is a prime element. The freshest produce is displayed to please even the most discerning chefs. The last fresh harvest combined with the winter-store potatoes, squash, and apples, makes this the perfect time to stock up and fill cellars for the coming cold.
The hunger pangs of the moment are easily addressed by the many vendors with ready-to-eat treats. Popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, Polish sausages, hamburgers, and ice cream are but a few of the offerings to satisfy immediate hunger pangs.
Furniture, antiques, jewelry and clothing are also in abundant supply for those seeking more lasting purchases. Over 12 years ago I purchased a redwood Adirondack settee from John Finnan. It remains a constant element of my lakefront lawn, as sturdy and comfortable as ever.
The wineries are also making their mark in the Windmill. Rooster Hill, Glenora, Swedish Hill, Seneca Shores, Montezuma, and Ashley Lynn offer the same tastings and direct sales there as on their own premises. Grapes, honey, and maple syrup are just a few of the other local products that are in rich supply.
My experience last Saturday was a perfect fall day: grey and drizzly, with all the autumn colors in full display, but even such wet weather could not deter the intrepid bargain hunters from their grounds.
The prices at the Windmill make the energy of the market even more attractive. That combination of specialty shops and local produce make the atmosphere the closest thing that Yates County or the United States can offer in comparison to England’s market days. This is commerce on its truest level.
Despite last weekend’s questionable weather, the antique car show was a huge success, with well over 100 participants!
Oct. 31 will see the Windmill hosting a costume parade at 3 p.m., with an award ceremony at 4 p.m. and free cider and donuts for all the participants.
Throughout November shopping, Thanksgiving feasts will undoubtedly be enriched by the produce offered at the Windmill, whose freshness far exceeds that which can be found in any supermarket.
The last two weeks of the Windmill’s 2009 season is highlighted by the visits of Santa Claus, who will be available for children’s wishes and photographs on both the 5th and the 12th of the month.
After that, the Windmill waits for spring to throw open its doors for yet another season.
I am completely confident that just like 2009, 2010 will be one of growth, vitality, and tremendous fun for Barrington.