The concept of a farmer's market may seem a bit antiquated, especially in South Florida. The so-called "markets" that sell knockoff Gucci bags and "brand new" stereos seem to permeate these parts. If you're looking for a breath of fresh air that doesn't stink of stolen merchandise and carnival food, Fort Lauderdale has a few options. Every Saturday morning, Hagen Park (2205 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors) is transformed into the Main Street Farmer's Market, a weekly forum for varied vendors to peddle their goods. Hal Miksch, executive director of Wilton Manors Main Street, had the idea a few months ago after visiting a farmer's market in West Palm Beach. "There was an urgent need to do something physical with Main Street, something that would serve the community in some way," Miksch says. "And the response we've gotten has been positive. Everyone really seems to love it." The market offers the usual fare, such as flowers, baked goods, and live plants, as well as exotic sauces, honey, vinegars, smoked fish, holiday decorations, and produce, of course. "Our produce vendor sells out every week," Miksch says. "If she doesn't have something you're looking for this week, she'll have it next week." The Main Street Farmer's Market happens every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 954-568-0504.
The monthly farmer's market at Expresso (1900 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale), a drive-through coffee shop in South Broward, is another chance to grab some fresh goods, from seafood and orchids to fresh baked bread and coffee. Co-owner Suzy Ludlow explains that the idea came to her about six months ago when she realized all the parking lot space next to Expresso could be put to good use. "Going to Publix just to get a tomato can give you a migraine," Ludlow says. "This way, folks can grab fresh food, fruit, vegetables, and pastries, as well as artwork, jewelry, and furniture all in one place." The Farmer's Market at Expresso is in business the second Sunday of every month at 10 a.m. Call 954-554-6652. -- Audra Schroeder
We Hardly Knew Ye
Perhaps Futurama, the bastard stepchild of The Simpsons, envisioned it best when it depicted, in the year 3000, a lonely Kwanzaa-Bot drifting through the stratosphere as the whole world waited in horror and trepidation for the arrival of the infamous Santa-Bot. It's up to us to make sure that, in a thousand years, Kwanzaa is a holiday with teeth, dammit!
Although Kwanzaa officially begins December 26 and carries on through January 1, a pre-Kwanzaa celebration takes place at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (2630 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) Monday at 6 p.m. There, you'll learn all about the holiday, founded in 1966 by California State University Professor Maulana Karenga, and the seven principles that guide it. Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates one of these principles, the most popular probably being the December 31 Kuumba (creativity) celebration, which often features arts and crafts shows and the Kwanzaa feast, or karamu. Bass Park (2750 NW 19th St., Fort Lauderdale) is the site of this year's Kuumba festival.
If you want to know more about the symbols, history, and guiding principles behind the newest holiday-season holiday, the African-American Research Library's Monday meet-up should give you everything you need. Call 954-625-2800. -- Dan Sweeney
Where's the Fire?
In your pants? No, at the Festival Flea Market!
Hey, big boy. It's a false alarm. But I've got a fire you can help put out (cue cheesy porno soundtrack). Well, now that we got the hackneyed sexual firefighter reference out of the way, on to the hot topic at hand. Ah, God bless firemen. They spend their days dutifully protecting our city from conflagration, but they also find time to pose half-naked at various locations around South Florida. They do it on the beach, on a boat, in front of a giant American flag -- for charity, of course. The South Florida Firefighters Calendar packs 12 months of oiled-up beefcake and more six-packs than a frat party. You can meet the calendar boys in person at the Festival Marketplace (2900 W. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach), and pick up a 2004 calendar just in time for that special girl (or guy). Proceeds benefit Here's Help, a local drug treatment center for teenagers and young adults. The heat is on at noon. Call 954-979-4555. -- Audra Schroeder
With all the lights, Santa statues, rampant consumerism, and other signs of the holidays, this is the time of year when a Jew can feel left out. Even in South Florida, famed for its Jewish population, the sheer number of Christmas reminders can seem daunting. By the time December 24 rolls around, Hanukkah can seem like a consolation prize in the grand scheme of wintry holidays.
Well, screw that! If you feel the need to commiserate with your fellow chosen people, the 17th-annual Mazel Tov Ball brings together Jewish singles from all over the tricounty area to two locations -- you finally can meet that nice Jewish boy your mother keeps demanding.
Held at Tavern on the Greenery (301 Yamato Rd., Boca Raton) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Christopher's (2857 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday -- or as your goy friend calls it, Christmas Eve -- the event features a buffet, music, plenty of door prizes, and hundreds of your fellow Hebrews, all for $15. Call 954-845-9537. -- Dan Sweeney