“Keep Portland Weird.” An unofficial town motto stolen from Austin, like it or not, is an apt phrase depicting the culture and inhabitants of the City of Roses. Equally, and perhaps even more fitting, would be, “Keep Portland Artisanal.” From food and drink to furniture and clothing, Portlanders are pretty good with their hands. The Portland Saturday Market is a "Vulcan mind meld" between the odd characters and craftsmanship of the city. Food carts, live music, beeswax candles, local goat cheese, knitted clothing, incense, elephant ears, wooden spoons, and masked girls with tattoos and hula hoops. It’s all there and then some. Its as experiential as it is tangible, and it’s fantastic.
If Portland can’t be the outright capital of something, it uses qualifiers to make it so, and you can be the biggest or best at anything with enough qualifiers. For example, I’m currently the tallest, richest, most handsome freelance writer living in a basement apartment in North Portland, currently writing a piece on the Saturday Market. Likewise, the Portland Saturday Market is nationally recognized as the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country.
Currently celebrating its 41st year, the market is open, rain or shine, every Saturday from 10am - 5pm and Sunday (yes, Sunday) from 11am - 4:30pm, March to December 24th. There are over 500 vendors at the market, but it has a bit of a split personality. West of the Skidmore Fountain is a carnival atmosphere, showcasing all things fried, inexpensive clothing items, Tchotchkes, and Portland-flavored memorabilia. East of the Fountain, artisan purveyors peddle wares of all sorts: one-of-a-kind pieces of art, clothing, jewelry, food products and durable goods.
The Market is located at 2 SW Naito Parkway. On weekdays you can reach a market representative at 503-222-6072 and at 503-241-4188 on weekends. Check them out on the web at PortlandSaturdayMarket.com. If you find yourself in Portland during the right time of year, a trip to the market is a must. Austin, TX might have rights to the original claim, but Portland is throwing down the gauntlet of weirdness with enthusiastic aplomb. It’s more than weird though; its almost unrivaled in terms of craftsmanship and creativity in an unending number of pursuits. And the Portland Saturday Market embodies it all.