Sunday, June 3, 2007

Seattle's Pike Place Market Celebrates its Centennial

Moving right along in the festival calendar, we come upon a rather momentous one...the 100th Anniversary celebration for Seattle's famed Pike Place Market. This was and continues to be a farmer's market where local produce, flowers and handmade crafts are sold, in an old, rambling building full of weird little shops. The first Starbucks coffee EVER still occupies its storied niche, always with some unique street performer attracting crowds at its ever-queue'd door.

This weekend, the Market, a tourist destination that struggles to attract sufficient nearby residents, offered a street's length of those ubiquitous white cubicle-tents, three pavilions where bands performed, and an array of startlingly weirdly decorated eight-foot-long pigs. Because a symbol of the Market is a brass pig that greets visitors at the crotch of the market buildings, supporters farmed out pig replicas to artists to decorate and later sell as a fund-raiser. The "parade of pigs" occurred on Shabbat, but its participants were stationed throughout the festival area, often accompanied by barkers urging passersby to contribute a dollar, in exchange for a snout sticker.

A week of uncharacteristically warm weather meant a jumble of people in tatoo-revealing outfits filled the narrow aisles inside the "sanitary market" and along the nearby streets. Post Alley, a snaking lane parallel to the Market's blocked-off drive, bustled with its outdoor cafes and browsers in the nook shops. The vendors of brilliantly-colored chili peppers strung into foot-long edible pendants hawked their wares. Baskets
offering clothes for a dollar, five and ten, lured ladies rifling through for a deal. Where Post Alley descended in its cobblestone path beneath part of the Market, patrons waiting for performances at the comedy club tucked in the brick passageway created the fabled "gum wall" of chicle wads.

And behind it all, sparkling Elliot Bay, Puget Sound, the curve of the Alki neighborhood, and the ubiquitous ferry boats shuttling patrons to the islands. What a wonderful way to welcome June, another reminder of the exuberance of summer.

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