Story and photos by Lauren Chamberlain
The Finger Lakes Region is like Mary Poppins’ bag. It has absolutely anything and everything you could ever need – like magic.
The Windmill Farm & Craft Market in Penn Yan is just one of those magical items.
The inspiration started in 1978 with Bill and Ruth Gunderman and Pat Gunderman and her husband Ron Nissen. That has then blossomed into 36 years of craft and artistry in the Finger Lakes. At the start, they opened in June of 1987 with 64 vendors and, today, this unique gem has over 175 indoor and outdoor small businesses on 44 acres that have just about everything one may need or want.
The Windmill is distinctive from other markets because it is built by a family of families. Dozens of small and family-owned businesses for delicious food, fresh produce, cabinetry, woodcraft, fashion, wine, microbrews, artistry, entertainment and a plethora of dining and snack options. Visitors can spend hours wandering and exploring and still turn another corner and find something they have not seen or tried before.
One of my greatest regrets is that I did not get to visit the Windmill more than once this season. But I absolutely made the time I spent there worthwhile. I enjoy walking through each building and up and down looking through everything. My first purchase was a mouthwatering apple cider donut from Fran’s Donut Barn. A warm and fresh donut was the perfect way to start my excursion on that cool Saturday in October.
From baked goods to handcrafted wooden ornaments to houseplants to perogies, I made the most of my experience. I adore the Windmill because you can sit and relax, walk around and enjoy the scenery and connect with the community, all while supporting local businesses. And while the weather was not the friendliest, the people were. Every vendor I talked to was welcoming and helpful and it just goes to show how much they all care so much about the whole market.
If you were not able to make it this season, it’s not too late!
The Windmill Farm and Craft Market will be open for their grand 2023 finale on Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Not only will they be doing hourly drawings for gift bags, but Santa’s reindeer will be visiting on the 24th, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will join the Windmill crew from 10:00 to 1:00 on the 25th.
This is the last weekend to experience the Windmill until April. So come this weekend and explore everything this Finger Lakes staple has to offer or mark your calendar for the 2024 season!
Visit thewindmill.com for more information.