Twinkling lights illuminating each adorned tree and the jazzy acoustics of live vocals guide shoppers down State St. each Thursday night in downtown Redlands. Established in 1988, Redlands Market Night is a time-honored tradition in the heart of the downtown area between Orange and Ninth. Each week, hordes of people swarm like moths to lamplight to check out the local booths and vendors, which range from offering fresh fruits and baked goods akin to a traditional farmer’s market, to trendier products like green juice, healing crystals, and wheatgrass shots.
Several vendors at the popular event sell handcrafted purses, items of jewelry, candles, and even socks with quirky patterns and out-of-the-ordinary designs, such as the Taco Bell logo or a design featuring characters from the hit television show The Office. Dinner choices vary depending on the week, but there is usually a rotation of Indian, Asian, and Mexican cuisine. If you are craving a funnel cake or a refreshingly cold snow cone, many booths also offer quintessential carnival food. There are also many alternative sources of sweets, including a homemade fudge stand and an exclusively vegan bakery based in Norco called “Consciously Baked,” which made its debut at Market Night on September 26th.
The Glencairn Farms booth, run by the Cunningham family, has been in operation since the very first Market Night made its debut in 1988. According to Andy Cunningham, the booth serves “avocados, asian pears, and citrus, among others.” Cunningham’s father was previously on City Council in the ‘80s, and went with four other council members up to San Luis Obispo. There, they were impressed by its vibrant farmer’s market, which featured vendors and street personnel. Market Night was born out of a desire to have a similar weekly event. Currently, the Cunninghams’ farm rests 2 miles away, along San Timothy Canyon Road.
Some vendors, such as Temecula Valley Honey, were founded after the demand for organic, natural products arose.
Temecula resident Shay Aguilar’s mother had severe allergies, and even her strong prescription medicine did not help, so they began making their own honey alongside jars of bee pollen, which Aguilar says goes great in yogurt or smoothies.
“Ingesting the bee pollen in foods will build up a resistance to it since it is feeding your body what it is fighting, similar to the concept of a vaccine,” Aguilar said. “There are so many health benefits of eating bee pollen. It is filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.”
Currently, the Temecula Valley Honey sell their products at eight markets in the area per week.
However, space at Market Night is not always occupied by local businesses peddling produce—activist, political, religious, or personal groups looking to attract members can apply for a booth as well. Many congregations in Redlands run booths, or assign members to hand out brochures on street corners. One Inland Empire based group even runs a booth called “Ask an Atheist,” where passersby are welcome to question an atheist about their personal beliefs and engage in civil discourse.
There is a wholesome, small town charm about events such as this, which bring the Redlands community together and provide an enjoyable outing for people of all ages. For families or groups with young children, a designated children’s play zone operates at the end of the street, featuring inflatable slides, pony rides, and a bounce house.
If you are looking to support local businesses and spend an evening shopping under the stars, consider dropping by Market Night any Thursday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 to peruse the different booths lining State St.
Photograph contributed by Olivia Umstead.