Granddaddy of them all

Sarasota County is lucky to have a bounty of farmers markets but the granddaddy of them all is the Sarasota Farmers Market.

Held on Saturdays year-round in downtown Sarasota, the market began in 1979 and has expanded to about 80 vendors with an average of 10,000 visitors each market and as many as 15,000 visitors in season, said market manager Phil Pagano.

The market contributes $56 million to the local economy, according to an economic study done last year.

The Sarasota Farmers Market offers local produce, seafood, artisans, prepared foods, live music, a kids’ area, free space for nonprofits, and more. Your experience of the market even changes as you go from one stretch of the market to another.

Near Worden Farm’s selection of organic produce, you take in the vibrant produce colors and nearby art galleries. Toward another market area, Frank Sinatra-themed music fills the air as you chat with Sea Salt Florida’s owner about his product. Then toward a third area, your senses get overwhelmed with the sounds of a Spanish guitar duo and the taste of freshly-cut pineapple and warm empanadas.