By Joe Blakely

[Editor’s Note – this essay on Eugene’s Saturday Market and the Holiday Market was written by Joe Blakely. Mr. Blakely is a Eugene Saturday Market vendor and is the author of 18 books about Oregon.]

The present day Eugene Saturday Market is located in the Park Blocks at 8th Avenue and Oak Street. It is a place where Eugene residents and out-of-town visitors can assemble, let their hair down, dress in outlandish wear, laugh, eat exquisite meals, buy unique gifts (not the chainstore boring replications) like interesting handcrafted artwork, pottery, clothing, jewelry, photographs, and books all while listening to enterprising musicians. The outdoor market is open from April through November. In November the market moves indoors and becomes Eugene’s Holiday Market at the Fairgrounds, running on weekends through December 24.

The current market was founded by an acclaimed ceramics artist, Lottie Streisinger, in 1970. From its meager start of just 29 vendors it has expanded to more than 600 members. Lane County’s bourgeoning artist community is offered an opportunity to display their creations. It’s a fact that large chainstores with their media control of advertising, muffle out local artists without the financial backing to reach these larger markets. Proudly and simply stated, Eugene’s Saturday Market provides an outlet for our Lane County crafting community.

Prior to the market’s current location, it was located at the “butterfly” parking lot across from the Lane County Court House. In 1982 it moved to the Park Blocks. Since then it has flourished as a Eugene tradition. Still, like any business Eugene’s Saturday Market has experienced ebbs and flows.

In 1970 the idea was presented to Eugene folks as a way to create interest in a sagging downtown economy. The idea worked. At first downtown businesses fought the idea, but soon found that the market actually increased their profits. People started coming back to Eugene’s downtown. So the market started expanding. Then, in 1982, an arsonist destroyed most of the market’s operational equipment. Membership dropped off. The market fought back, overcoming internal strife and resurrecting itself, once again becoming a prominent downtown draw.