When traveling through the rolling corn fields of Eastern Pennsylvania, it's hard to limit the number of stops you make at this or that roadside farm stand—of which there are seemingly countless. What if the next one has the best shoo-fly pie in the state? What's an eater to do??
Thankfully, the region is also peppered with combination farmers-and-antiques markets like Renningers in Kutztown, which allows the indecisive (or noncommital) to make several stops in one, sampling apple dumplings, pickles, or the -wurst of their choosing from a number of different vendors.
Renningers, which also operates similar markets in Adamstown and Mt. Dora, has been up and running in Kutztown since 1955, when it simply featured produce from area farmers. The complex expanded to include an eclectic indoor marketplace in the mid-'70s, and now vintage ties, sour pickles, and Amish-style furniture coexist peacefully under the same roof as locally grown beets, fruit, and greens.
Inside, the market stalls are teeming with Pennsylvania Dutch classics like sauerkraut baked beans, shoo-fly pie, pretzels, horehound candy (who still eats horehound candy?!) and all manner of cured meats.
Both the exterior and interior markets are separated into stalls, some more casually staffed than others. Outside, farmers offer pints of okra, fresh ears of corn, and some homemade treats like apple dumplings and the "funny cake," a regional specialty that is literally a cake baked into a pie crust. (Funny!)
In addition to collecting the week's fresh and preserved provisions, shoppers in the enclosed emporium can snack on comically large grilled-sausage sandwiches, made-to-order fries, or any number of different cream-filled donuts before moving on to the antiques vendors in an adjacent wing. There's even a tucked-way-back barber's stall, should one need a beard trim. (It's called Ye Olde Barber Shop. No, really.)
The outdoor flea market wasn't going strong on our visit (probably felled by a night of heavy rain, with more bad weather on the horizon), but Renningers boasts a weekly lineup of upwards of 200 dealers and vendors, hawking one-man's-trash all year round. It's a definite must-visit if you're in the area.
Renningers Antiques and Farmers Market
740 Noble Street, Kutztown PA 19530 (map)
Farmers Market: Open Fridays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Antiques Market: Open Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Outdoor Flea Market: Open Saturdays 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Year-round, weather permitting.
Tomatoes Corn Peaches String beans Grapes
Apples Winter squash Potatoes Pumpkin
Inside Antiques Vendors Worth the Trip
Sharon Renningers Gatherings for fabric, decorative whimsies, and PA Dutch collectibles.
Kutztown Radio for beautifully restored antique radios and TVs.
Tree Top Antiques for model train sets.
Cacciola's Antiques for mounted deer, buffalo, and bear heads.
Country Farm Designs for antique cookware, quilts, and other charming household goods.