Live shrimp new addition to Chesterton’s European Market
By John Robbins Post-Tribune correspondent May 1, 2013 10:44AM
Hanging baskets of fresh flowers among the items available for visitors as they walk past booths at the European Market in downtown Chesterton. The market is scheduled to open for the season this Saturday. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2013 3:08PM
CHESTERTON — “If you want to eat truly fresh shrimp, stop by the market,” says Bob Batson, co-owner of the Valparaiso Shrimp Co., inviting visitors to stop by his booth at Chesterton’s European Market, opening for the 11th year this Saturday.
This will be Batson’s first time at the European Market. “It’s a good place to showcase our shrimp and a good place to get to be known,” he said about his decision to join with nearly 100 other vendors to sell their wares to an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 weekly visitors.
Batson raises salt-water shrimp in Valparaiso in a one-of-a-kind facility, taking 11-day-old shrimp larvae and feeding them in tanks for four months until they’re ready to eat. His shrimp will truly be fresh too — buyers take them home live for later dispatch.
Chesterton’s fresh air European Market is all about fresh — fresh pastries, bread, cheese, pies, fruit, and pizza — seasonal fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, local honey and maple syrup. Plus there’s art and plants to adorn the house and yard and jewelry and clothes to adorn the body. You name it you’ll probably find it. And if you’re into crowd watching, this is the place.
You can bring along the pets, too. The market is especially welcoming for the dogs. “On really hot days we’ll put out bowls of water,” said Allyson Baughman, Duneland Chamber of Commerce marketing director and European Market manager
“The coolest thing I see about the market is the micro-market economy that has developed between the vendors and the retailers in town,” said Baughman. “The cupcake vendor buys honey from the honey salesman. Rolling Stone Baker buys salt from Regal Rabbit, mushrooms from a mushroom producer and sources other produce from organic farmers.”
As the market’s 11th season is getting under way, Baughman reflects on its growth. “It started out with a handful of merchants in the chamber parking lot.” It now takes up the parking lot, half of Chesterton’s Thomas Park and half a block of Third Street.
Forty-four merchants have committed to staking out their plot every Saturday until the end of October with another 35 considered by Baughman as semi-seasonal vendors, those who will be in downtown Chesterton regularly, just not weekly. A handful of vendors will be only occasionally present, so visitors will be greeted with the old and the new weekly.
About the only complaint one hears about the market is the difficulty in parking. “Every once in a while I’ll get a complaint about finding it hard to park, but in my mind, that isn’t a bad thing,” Baughman said.
Baughman thinks most of the town merchants are pretty happy about the crowds of people the market brings to town, but not all are. Some think the market has gotten to be too big.
One local shop owner, preferring to remain anonymous, thinks it draws business away from town merchants and based upon their experience finds fewer shoppers now than formerly when there were fewer visitors to the market.
“The market was started to be a market driver for the community, and it’s working,” counters Baughman.
The Chesterton European Market is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday beginning May 4 and ending Oct. 26 and is located at Broadway and Third Street.