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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Farmers line up their wagons to sell produce. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Outside City Hall. Photo courtesy: Ray Grant

FARMERS' MARKET. The idea of the Dubuque Farmers' Market is believed to have been started by settlers from Philadelphia who brought with them the concept of that city's Old Spring Garden Market. (1) Farmers' Market was held in the DUBUQUE CITY HALL building. When the building was first opened in 1858, farmers backed their wagons up to the long windows on the northern and southern sides of the building and unloaded their produce into stalls inside the building. In December 1879 with the remodeling of the building, the market was eliminated from the building and the space used for offices. (2) The Dubuque market grew to cover blocks by the 1930s. (3)

The market was briefly discontinued due to declining attendance blamed on post-WORLD WAR II prosperity and the advent of supermarkets. It was reinvigorated in 1974 by C. Robert JUSTMANN who encouraged arts and crafts to be added to the traditional display of produce from gardens and area farmers. (4)

Farmers' market has a long history in Dubuque. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

As many as eighty-five vendors pay a seasonal fee to display their goods. Some vendors have come to the market for as many as twenty years. Peak attendance generally comes in June and July when as many as three to five thousand people visit the market. City health officials make regular inspections. Winter markets from November to April have been held at the Colts Center. (5)

Farmers' market vendor in 1912. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding




1. Oldt, Franklin T., History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Association, 1880, p. 540.

2. Ibid.

3. Fyten, David, "They Grow It All For You," Telegraph Herald, October 10, 1982, p. 6

4. Fyten

5. Becker, Stacey. "Winter Market Localizes Consumption," Telegraph Herald, January 4, 2015, p. 11A