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Summer guide: Treasures & treats await at St. Stephen’s market

WHILE SHOPPERS ARE sometimes very intent when looking for a bargain, the spirit of the Peasant Market is always joyful. Photo by Jason Duquette-Hoffman

MIDDLEBURY — Almost every summer since 1947, the people of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on the Green in downtown Middlebury have staged huge yard that covers a large part of the lawn and gazebo and, except for during the pandemic, reached into the church basement and meeting rooms.

It’s called the Peasant Market, and indeed it is a gift to the Addison County community.

Peasant Market is the church’s signature event and its largest outreach project. It is held on the Saturday after the Fourth of July. For the last few decades it has come a day before the start of the popular Festival on the Green , and tent that goes up for the Saturday market stays up for the week to cover the stage for Festival musicians.

The market, which this year will operate on July 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., has become a well-known tradition and an outdoor community event for the whole family. The big tent alongside the church offers fabulous deals on jewelry, household goods, linens, antiques, rugs, lamps, knickknacks and collectibles. Smaller, ancillary tents sell toys, sporting goods, garden accessories, and furniture. You can often find racks of clothing in the church basement and book upstairs in a conference room. Organizers have specifically called out for donations of furniture one person can carry, handmade items and art. They don’t sell military toys like guns and swords, plastic containers and computers.

All of it use, clean and sold at great prices. Plus there is always a contingent of plant sellers on or near the gazebo.

Sometimes there are games for the kids. Look for food being sold off to the side, particularly fresh-0squeezed lemonade, homemade baked goods and wonderful fruit pies that the New York Times lauded for their consistently tender crusts.

Many at St. Stephen’s affectionately call the event “The Miracle On The Green.”

Profits from the event fund the Peasant Market Grants program. Each year St. Stephen’s calls for grant applications from organizations in Addison County. For this year’s grants, they are targeting grant proposals to fund programs addressing the needs of children and youth or food insecurity. Proceeds from the 2023 market funded $15,000 in grants that were awarded to the Addison County Relocalization Network Farmacy Program, Addison Allies Network, Addison County Restorative Justice Service, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes Cooking Club, Counseling Service of Addison County Youth Cooking Program, Middlebury Community Music Center Summer Camp Program, Rokeby Museum, Turning Point Center of Addison County, Vergennes Community Food Shelf, Vergennes Opera House All Access Project and the women’s food collaborative Viva El Sabor. 

The spirit of Peasant Market, among both church workers and customers, is always joyful even if skies are sometimes dark. Throughout the day, people feel the good spirit of serving the needs and desires of our local community.

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