Despite the fact that I currently live in Denton, I had somehow managed to overlook the Denton Community Market (DCM) until recently. I visited for the first time in June, on a rare summer day with a double (not triple) heat index. This market is far more than a farmer’s market, and I think everyone should add this fun event to their “Fun Things to Do in DFW” bucket list.
With two universities in town, Denton is a diverse town with a thriving arts and music scene. It’s also known in the DFW area as a city with great dining options, especially vegetarian and vegan options. One reason for this is the rural nature of this fast-growing city. Produce farms and horse farms within the city limits and in nearby towns make it a place where country meets city and visitors enjoy the best of both. The Denton Community Market is a perfect example of this.
Denton is growing at a fast clip, but it hasn’t forgotten its rural roots or its neighborly attitude. You’ll find, as I have, that it’s one of the friendliest cities in DFW. If you’ve never visited Denton, or if you haven’t been lately, it’s about time you explored this charming little city to the north of Dallas. The Denton Community Market is a great place to start your discovery. This handy guide will help you get the lay of the land at this fun weekly gathering.
Spend a Saturday morning at the market, and you just may decide to stay in Denton the whole day.
What’s all the buzz about?
In the spring of 2010 the Denton Community Market organization held its first market day, and eight years later, the organization, the event, and its vendors are flourishing. The group’s mission is to foster a sense of community in town as well as to expand economic opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs. I think it does both exceptionally well. Food producers and vendors, local artists, community organizations, and other small businesses set up shop every Market Day to socialize and sell their wares.
What are the days and hours?
8AM to 12 or 1PM Summer Early Bird Hours9AM-1PM April through June and September through November
Market Days are held every Saturday morning from April through November. For most of the year, hours are 9AM to 1PM. During the summer, early bird hours are in effect, with the market starting at 8AM. Vendors have flexible closing times and can opt to close theirbooths at noon or stay open until 1PM. After Labor Day, market hours return to 9AM to 1PM for the rest of the fall season.
Where is it and how do I get there?
Denton Community Market at the Denton County Historical Park
DCM market days are held on the lawn of the Denton County Historical Park at the corner of Carroll Boulevard and Mulberry Street. From Dallas or other points south, start by heading north on IH-35. The market is a little less than a mile from the Downtown Denton Transit center, so if you want to take DCTA’s A-train (or connect from DART to the A-train) that’s a possibility too.
Where can I park?
Onsite at the venue or in free nearby parking. You can view or download maps of all the nearby free and paid parking options at DentonMainStreet.org.
The historical park has onsite parking with a 111-space surface lot. During the summer, you’ll most likely be able to park in that lot. In the spring and fall when the weather is more pleasant, that lot may fill up. If it’s full, you’ll find unlimited-time free street parking all along Sycamore street, which runs parallel to Mulberry bordering the venue. More street parking is available on sections of Elm and Mulberry.
There are two more free public parking lots about an eight-minute walk away. Old Rock parking lot and the City Hall Auxiliary parking lot face each other from opposite sides of McKinney Street.
Is it pet friendly?
It is! Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome.
Is it kid friendly?
Kids are definitely welcome, and most age groups will have a great time. Activities vary from week to week, but there is always something special offered to entertain the little ones.
Is there any shade?
The Denton Historical Park lawn has mature trees, so part of the market area is shaded. You’ll also find two awning-covered seating areas with tables for eating and drinking.
What can I get to eat?
Of course, you’ll find locally produced fruits, veggies, meat, and eggs to take home, but you’ll also find some goodies to eat while you’re there. The typical assortment of treats might include kettle corn, cinnamon rolls, smoothies, crepes, pie, and more.
A few food trucks offer more substantial eats if you’re ready for lunch before you’re ready to leave. The food truck rotation varies, but Denton favorites Leila’s and Uncle Hector’s appear regularly. Combs Coffee is on site with incredible coffee and tea, and you’ll find a booth from local store Juice Lab and several other juice and smoothie options as well.
If you’re ready to sit down and have a leisurely meal indoors after your visit, head over to the Denton square and enjoy a meal at one of the best restaurants in town. (Suggestions are coming right up.)
What will I see there?
You’re definitely going to find some great produce, meat, and eggs. This market is a producer-only market. That means that all farm vendors are certified to have produced their own goods within a 100-mile radius of Denton using sustainable farming practices. Urban farming is featured as well as larger “traditional” farms.
On the day I visited, I saw
Garden plants and house plants from Painted Flower Farm
Beautiful cut flowers and arrangements featuring multiple varieties of cheery zinnias as well as sustainably grown onions from Jubilee Farm Denton
Turnips, green beans, blackberries and much more from Green Valley Gardens, part of the Denton Farmers’ Cooperative
Living lettuce, microgreens and more from Oliver’s Gardens
Brown oyster, shitake, and lion’s mane mushroomsand an assortment of other vegetables from Tree Folk Farm
I didn’t make it to every booth, so I missed the jellies, jams, and honey. I also missed out on pasture-raised chicken and eggs, duck eggs, pork products, pasture-raised lamb, and grass-fed and finished beef.
Visit the What’s Fresh page of the DCM website for updates on what will be available on upcoming market days.
The Denton County Farmer’s Market holds its market in an adjacent space at the same time and will generally feature a few farm booths with products produced outside the Denton area.
Other Food Products
Non-farmer vendors can offer food products too. You’ll find a nice variety or ready-to-eat foods as well as prepared products to use as meal ingredients. All of these items are produced by the vendors themselves – no resale products can be sold at the Denton Community Market.
On the day I visited, I saw
Amazing bacon! One booth had some of the best bacon I’ve ever tasted, and a spreadable bacon product called bacon crack from Divine Swine. Coppell local David Magaster shared with me how he ended up becoming a bacon maker and told me a little about his curing and smoking process. A free sample of the bacon almost melted me into a puddle.
Salsas and enchilada sauce from Salsa Revolution and fresh fruit juice, lemonades, and horchata from Agua Frescas in a shared booth
Gourmet chocolates from Sweet Legacies
Fresh angel hair and linguini nests, tricolored bowtie pasta and orza, as well as whole wheat and gluten-free pasta options from Lucido’s Pasta
Savory and sweet hand pies, quiches, cookies, and more on The Messy Chef food truck
A cinnamon roll baked and topped with real peaches from Sweet Rolls Denton. Traditional cinnamon rolls and caramel pecan flavors are also offered on a gluten free roll. Peach was June’s flavor of the month. For July, it’s Sweet Cherry.
Prettily-packaged mixed flavor bags of kettle corn fromGranny’s Old-Fashioned Confections
A sold-out sign from Pie by Kate – those treats go fast!
I didn’t see any of the cookie booths or tamales, but I know they were there.
I chatted for a few minutes with James Combs at his coffee, tea, and chocolate booth. His passion for sourcing, roasting, grading and serving coffee is as apparent as his love of the Denton area. Combs Coffee has a café up the road in Corinth, and James had arrived at the market in one of the company’s solar and electric powered delivery vehicles. That is oh, so Denton.
Vendor booths feature local art and handmade items too, and a number of them use recycled or reclaimed materials.
During my visit, I saw
Wood carvings from reclaimed wood at Board &Bloom
Hand-forged tools, knives, garden implements, and home décor from The Kilted Blacksmith
Sketch books with engraved wood covers at Wild Wood Shed
Wine cork key chains and spoon rings from Corky Crafts and Other Creation
Clever pillows with kid-appeal, home décor pillows and handmade scarves and bows from Sweet Little Things
Beaded bracelets, beautiful earrings, blinged keychains and other jewelry items from Bluebonnet Belle Bling
Colorful, hand-sewn fabric handbags from Brigid Brammer Bags
Lusciously scented body and beard oil from Salted Sanctuary Soap
Art prints, magnets, buttons and T-shirts from Bryan Kelly Illustrations
Sneakers printed with photos or colorful hand-drawnart at Tattoo My Shoes. This is one of the most original handcrafted products I’ve seen.
You may also see more jewelry, handmade soaps and bath products, vegan cosmetics, paintings and prints, pressed flower art, stained glass, more woodwork, metalwork, and leathercrafts, as well asscreen-printed T-shirts.
What if I really don’t want to buy anything?
No worries! Many vendors are eager to tell you about their businesses and their wares, so you may occasionally feel like you’re hearing a bit of a sales pitch. None that I encountered were high pressure in any way. Don’t let anyone’s active approach deter you from seeing everything you want to see. Take it as a display of friendliness, which you’ll see all over Denton. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m just looking” or even better, “I’m just curious.”
Being a college town, Denton is probably the best town in DFW for getting by on the cheap. If you need to, feel free to bring your own bottled water and enjoy free samples to your heart’s content. Pay forward the vendors’ hospitality by sharing with your family and friends what a great time you had.
What else can I see and do there?
Local musicians play and sing in the park’s gazebo while Denton Radio live streams the music to the whole town and beyond. On most (if not all) days, you’ll find an activity area for kids as well. Themed events vary from week to week. The Facebook page is the best place to keep up with current and coming events.
Community organizations can set up a booth here too. On the day I visited, I had a long chat with the ladies from the Denton County Historical Commission, whose volunteers serve at the Courthouse on the Square Museum (currently closed for renovation) and the museums at the historical park.
Since Market Days are on the lawn of the Denton Historical Park, you might also want to visit the Bayless-Selby House or the Quakertown House museum. A third museum, Woods House, will be open soon, and the Taylor Log Cabin is being renovated on site.
Don’t’ head home just yet!
Once you’ve seen (and purchased) everything you want to, you should spend at least a little time exploring downtown Denton. Consider having lunch at an “oh, so Denton” place like Pizza Snob (best pizza in Denton), Hannah’s Off the Square (for something a little more elegant), or the very Denton-Centric, Texas music-themed LSA Burgers on the square (start with the brisket queso!) Thai Square, Cartwright Ranch House, and Barley and Board are also great options right on the courthouse square. Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, also on the square, is a cool shop for ice cream treats.
Just a couple of blocks north on Carroll Boulevard, you’ll find Mi Casita – a popular casual food spot serving Mexican food and big burritos. Also in that block of Carroll, you’ll see a nondescript gas station called Midway Mart. Don’t let the small size of it or its aging exterior fool you. The place is chock full of some of the greatest craft beers you can buy, many of them local. Take some home to drink with a meal made from your farm fresh food purchases.
The day I went to the Denton Community Market, I had just discovered via Instagram that craft beer comes in really cute little cans. (I know, where have I been?) Anyway, I had read that Midway Mart was one of the best beer stops in Denton, so I popped in to snap some fun pics after I finished my fun at the market. Sure enough, a friendly clerk named Sean pointed out some of the best and most popular local beers (and the prettiest cans for my pictures.) He asked what beers I liked and made some personalized recommendations for me as well.
For me, that was the perfect way to wrap up my first market day. I’m telling you, Denton is just friendly like that.How will you spend your day at the Denton Community Market.