The Country’s Oldest Farmers’ Market
The nation’s oldest continuously operating farmer’s market is located in a striking 120+ year old building in the middle of downtown Lancaster.
The Central Market is popular with local folks as well as tourists. It is a popular meeting place for coffee and a donut, for soup and a sandwich, or for shopping.
When Lancaster was first laid out as a town in 1730, they sectioned off a 120 square foot lot in the center of town as a public market where farmers and others could sell their wares. Eventually the market was included in one of the buildings along West King Street adjacent to the current structure.
The current market house was built in 1889. This Romanesque Revival style building was designed by architect James Warner, and has become a popular Lancaster landmark. Some of the stands at the Central Market have been in the same families for generations.
Markets have always been valued in Lancaster. In the late 1800’s there were as many as eight markets located throughout the city. And throughout the 1800’s and into the 1900’s a series of curb markets also sprung up around town, where farmers pulled up their wagons or set up tables along the curb and sold their wares to the public.
Types of Merchandise to Be Found Here
The Central Market houses almost 70 individual stands. Here’s a sampling of what you will find here:
- Fresh farm produce
- Meats, poultry, and fish
- Cheeses and dairy
- Fresh flowers
- Breads and baked goods
- Ice cream
- Soups, sandwiches, & salads
- Coffees and teas
- Specialty grocery items
- Ethnic foods
- Crafts and home décor
- Chocolates, candies, & snacks
The Central Market is open year round. Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are often called ‘Market Days’ in Lancaster. The market is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturdays from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. This schedule may vary if a national holiday falls on one of these days.
The Central Market is a unique local stop for groups, too. It is suggested that group leaders contact the Market Manager at 717-572-6780 beforehand to coordinate the discharging of passengers and parking the bus.
Farmers Markets are Popular in Lancaster
Farmers markets are still popular in Lancaster County. You’ll find a directory of local farmers markets here.
Another popular market with locals and visitors is the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market along Route 340 in Bird-in-Hand. During the height of the season this market is open Wednesdays through Saturdays.