It's October and that means farmers markets are returning — a time to put your tiny dog in a stroller, suck on a gourmet caramel and sea salt popsicle and rummage through some artisanal cheeses.
This Saturday, the granddaddy of them all, St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market, returns with some 200 vendors rotating each week through 130 spaces in what has become, after 11 years, the largest farmers market in the state.
This market always has live music and a good selection of food perfuming the air, from empanadas to pizzas, fresh baked bread, smoked mullet, baked goods and more. A new addition this year: A vendor will be flying in fresh truffles from Italy. Popular Worden Farm will not be at the market for maybe a couple of weeks, depending on harvest.
The market is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday in the parking lot at Progress Energy Park, First Street at First Avenue SE, the home of Al Lang Field. Visit saturdaymorningmarket.com.
More outdoor markets will open in the next few weeks. Here are some to watch for:
• Corey Fresh Market: Returning this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on St. Pete Beach's Corey Avenue. This kid-friendly market has the top-hatted Mr. I Got 'Em BBQ, a special appearance by Matthews Wildlife Rescue and live music by Joel & Dakota, a father-son duo from Tarpon Springs.
• Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market: Opening on Oct. 13 with a Chopped-style "Chef Off," challengers will get a Market Mystery Basket as well as produce and a starch. Chefs will bring their protein and a team of helpers and when the bell rings, cooking will begin. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be one of the judges. The market runs 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hillsborough High School, 5000 N Central Ave., Tampa.
• Hyde Park Village Fresh Market: This outdoor market takes place at the fountain the first Sunday of every month with live music, cooking demos, ready-to-eat food items and art. Friendly dogs on leashes welcome. They also have a market where kids can set up their own booths and sell baked goods, crafts and more. It runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday at 621 W Snow Circle, Tampa.
• Tampa Downtown Market: Returning on Oct. 13, the market moves this year to 601 N Ashley St. across from Curtis Hixon Park. It runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays through May 25.
• Founders Corner Fresh Market: Opening Nov. 1 this open air market will be held every Friday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. until June 2, with produce, arts and crafts, jewelry, raw honey, live music and other entertainment at 431 Southwest Blvd. N, St. Petersburg.
• Market Day at Park Square: After a summer hiatus, the FishHawk Ranch Market Day at Park Square returns this Sunday with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and family fun provided by DJ, Jake Dela Cruz, and Lily the Clown. Activities for the kids will include face-painting and balloon animals. It runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the clown will be there 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Park Square at FishHawk Ranch, 16144 Churchview Drive, Lithia.
• Fresh Friday Night Market: The first Friday of every month, the Greater New Port Richey Main Street hosts a market featuring produce, crafters, live entertainment, food vendors and more. This Friday, the Downtown New Port Richey Art Gallery hosts its first Friday opening reception simultaneously at the gallery on Grand Boulevard. Its street party runs 5 to 9 p.m. at Cavalaire Square, 5733 Missouri Ave., New Port Richey.
• Wiregrass Fresh Market: Every other week, starting this Saturday, the Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive in Wesley Chapel, host more than 50 vendors in the heart of the shopping center. Expect to find a variety of local, certified organic, hydroponic and conventional produce, Florida plants, herbs and flowers, organic garden supplies, locally made take-home foods such as jams, jellies, salsa, dips, seasonings, sauces and oils, local artists showcasing their creative efforts and eco-friendly products. It runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
• Ybor Saturday Market: This year-round market features produce, baked breads, plants and more and is the home of the Flan Fest every February, when contestants compete for the Top Flan in Tampa Bay title. It's held in Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Tampa, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market: This year-round market also hosts a clothing swap, cooking demonstrations, live music, vegetables and fruit, baked goods and crafts. Held every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Crossroads Farmers Market: This year-round market in Palm Harbor runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays at Pop Stansell Park, 797 Florida Ave., Palm Harbor