Karen Randall, Sunnyhill Drive, could barely hold anything else in her arms. She had bags filled with chicken, vegetables and breads, as she looked over a table filled with vibrant flowers from Catchfly Gardens. She made a stop at her car to drop off her purchases and headed back for more.
“I pretty much buy everything,” said Randall, who anxiously awaits the start of the Mt. Lebanon Lions Farmers Market each year. She buys her Wednesday night dinners at the market and leaves with a variety of goods that she can use throughout the week. “This is still my favorite market. Not only is it close to home, but you get to know the people that you see here each week.”
The Mt. Lebanon Lions Farmers Market kicked off its 2021 season on June 2 and, despite the rain, had an impressive turnout. The market, organized by the Mt. Lebanon Lions Club, runs every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Mt. Lebanon United Lutheran Church, 975 Washington Road, through the end of October.
“It’s a community event. People come here because it’s exciting and good to be out with other people. We have excellent vendors with a nice variety,” said Walt Heintzleman, a Lions Club past president who lived in Mt. Lebanon for nearly 50 years before moving to Providence Point.
There are 28 vendors this year—what could be a record number. The market is the longest-running farmers market in the South Hills. It started in 1989 and has run consecutively each year since—even through the heart of the pandemic.
“It’s a good venue for people. If you’re driving home and don’t want to cook, you can stop by. A lot of our vendors sell out. We have a good mix,” said Dan Shaffer, Gypsy Lane, who serves as a director of the Lions Club. In the warm weather—when there’s no rain—attendees stay for the afternoon and camp out on the grassy hillside next to the parking lot to enjoy some tasty bites.
While many of the staples returned this year, the market also has some new additions. The Mt. Lebanon Lions have teamed up with Mt. Lebanon Public Library for years to host a book club. This year, they’re expanding their partnership, with library representatives offering programs at the market on the second Wednesday for adults and the fourth Wednesday for kids.
They are also planning a pop-up concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony later this summer (the date is TBD).
Dormont resident Nancy Geraci said the market features some of her favorite vendors. She gathered fresh vegetables and herbs from Dillner Family Farm and planned to get cheese from Cherish Creamery and popcorn from Wild River Kettle Korn, among other things.
Dillner Family Farm, based in Gibsonia, where they raise more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, attends four farmers markets each year. They had a line of folks waiting under umbrellas to purchase their fresh produce. “It’s great to be here. Everyone comes out to support us, you can see, rain or shine,” said Jon Dillner. Their biggest seller is sweet corn, which they hope to have at the market by July 4.
The market is the main event each year for the Mt. Lebanon Lions, which was founded in 1932 and presently has 24 members. Proceeds from the market benefit Mt. Lebanon Lions charities, which include Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services, Eye & Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Mercy Homeless Services and Mt. Lebanon Public Library.