If the Indiana Dunes haven’t put Duneland on the map, then certainly Chesterton’s European Market has. Since the very beginning, Chesterton’s European Market has brought crowds to the downtown each Saturday during the summer months for their produce, cheese, bread, and art of every shape and size.
Chesterton’s European Market began 11 years ago when then Duneland/Chesterton Chamber of Commerce leader Bonnie Trout and Lisa Wodrich of Third Coast Spice Café patterned the market after a French market in Illinois. With the support of the town they held the first market in the chamber parking lot and began with just 28 vendors. The market quickly grew and has ebbed and flowed each week over the years depending on schedules and other factors. Today the market boasts nearly 100 vendors in downtown Chesterton every Saturday from May to October.
Chesterton’s European Market differs from farmers markets in other communities that may offer strictly produce. Although vendors do typically come from within a 50 mile radius, so it is still local, they are not just farmers or gardeners, they are also artisans such as chefs, bread makers, pastry chefs, sculptors, iron workers, booksellers, jewelry makers, and more.
Popular vendors include Bit of Swiss, a Swiss pastry bakery from Stevensville, Michigan. “The people are just wonderful at this market. They are so warm and friendly, the love their pastries, and it feels like family here,” said Manager Bea Fontecchio. Another vendor is Froelich’s from Three Oaks providing rosemary flatbreads, jams, pickled items, spreads. The Cheese People are from Quincy, Illinois who offer all kinds of cheese. “This market is much busier than what I’m use to at our store,” said employee Abbey Jarvis. Lehman’s Orchard from Niles, Michigan and South Bend is known for their honey crisp apples, blueberries, and apple cider. New this year is the Valparaiso Shrimp Company selling fresh saltwater shrimp, Taj Indian Food, and Timbrook Kithcens from Valparaiso offering tasty hand pies and foldovers. “It’s probably the best market in the area, well attended, well run, with a good variety,” said Chris Monroe, owner. His selections change each week and include chipotle beef tamale pie, white chicken artichoke pie, and crab Nixon.
“This is such a community and it’s a great chance to see friends after a long winter. Our vendors truly appreciate, respect, and care about each other,” says Heather Ennis, executive director of the Duneland/Chesterton Chamber of Commerce. This year’s market boasts some 44 vendors who have signed on for the entire season, while last year only had 12. In fact, the chamber had to add a half-season sign up for vendors, attracting some 34 contracts, for those with seasonal needs. Marketing Coordinator Allyson Baughman explains, “We have some vendors where a whole season just doesn’t make sense, like those in the fine arts, because they sell out faster than they can resupply. They just can’t keep up with the demand, which is a good problem to have.
Some vendors change their offerings as the summer goes along. Michelle Zandstra, sales manager of Marilyn’s Bakery of Hobart, says they make pies with fresh ingredients each season. “We like the market because it’s local and close to home and we’re all about using local ingredients. Everyone loves our products and we like to please them.” Zandstra says.
Baughman says that they have had to expand the market further into Thomas Centennial Park this year, as well as further up 3rd Street. In addition, they have added electricity for many booths to accommodate refrigeration and cooking needs. “People who do shows all over the country tell me that this is the best show because of the people,” Baughman says.
Visit Chesterton’s European Market in downtown Chesterton every Saturday from May to October from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Broadway and Third Street, next to Thomas Centennial Park. For more information visit chestertonseuropeanmarket.com.