Saturday, November 16, 2013


Anyone who knows me knows I love to visit places that have a variety of merchandise, whether it be food (Middlefield Cheese and End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia) or just interesting "stuff" (Andrews General Store in Howland Township). If there's a chance to combine those visits with food, it's like frosting on the cake.

So when I learned about The Valley Marketplace on South Avenue in Boardman Township, Ohio, I couldn't wait for it to open so I could check it out. The official grand-opening was Sept. 19 to 21, and you bet, my husband and Jack and I were there front and center, shopping basket in hand.

This is part of a third-generation family business that started the original Farmers Market in 1932 about 20 miles south of Philadelphia, according to website information. Most of the 100 vendors are Amish from Lancaster County, Pa. The same market concept has been brought here, where the majority of vendors are from Middlefield (the heart of Geauga County's Amish settlement, reportedly the fourth largest in the world).

At last check, there are about 30 vendors at the local market, but the list is expected to grow (there's plenty of available space). Products, most of which are made onsite, range from fresh-baked goods like pies and breads as well as wicker items, candles, Amish-made furniture, cheeses, fresh fruit and even fresh-made ice cream, a butcher shop and a small Amish restaurant. Wide aisles allow for easy wandering up and down, and I'm here to tell you that the smells of the baked goods is almost impossible to resist (in particular, huge apple fritters that were a reasonable $2 each). Many of the sections offer samples; because we love cream cheese spreads and they were a grand-opening special at buy two, get one free, we brought three home (bacon horseradish, garlic-herb and bacon-cheddar. All were delicious - and disappeared in our happy stomachs within two days.

Breads are my downfall, but I stayed in control and bought a single loaf of garlic-cheddar for $5. As a special, anyone who spent $5 got a free mini-loaf of wheat bread - still warm - which I popped into the freezer at home to eat later (yes, it was yummy as well). I should note that here and there are small alcoves with benches (and sometimes tables and chairs), so you can eat comfortably and gather your strength to do more shopping.

In fact, our taste buds got nailed right at the entrance, where there's a place to get breakfast and other goodies. In the center is Our House Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the three days the marketplace is open (Thursday, Friday and Saturday only). The offerings even include a family style, all-you-can-eat Amish Wedding Banquet ($20 per adult), which includes oven-baked chicken and a meat of the day plus plenty of stick-to-your-ribs sides, dessert and beverage. If you prefer (as we did), create your own meal by purchasing a la carte items like a chicken drumstick for $2, mashed potatoes and gravy ($2.50) and a slice of pie ($2.50). If that's not your thing, check out the wonderful delicacies at Harley's Smokehouse, another vendor that offers seating.

The Killcreek Meats butcher shop is nothing short of awesome; the just-cut array of beef and poultry almost begged to jump into our shopping basket. We spent a bit of time looking through some of the crafts, gift and sign shops as well. Display cases and open racks let it all hang out, and prices are clearly marked. 

If there's a downside, some of the vendors don't accept credit cards, so if you plan on serious shopping, be sure to take some cash. 

If you go:

The Valley Marketplace
6121 South Ave.
Boardman, Ohio 44512
(330) 248-7034

Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.