What began as an antidote to the crushing commercialism of Black Friday has evolved into a shopping tradition of a different sort. The Basilica Farm & Flea in Hudson, New York (along the river in New York’s Hudson Valley) is held each November and May. The November dates coincide with Thanksgiving weekend and the spring dates with Mother’s Day weekend, making it a welcome outing for anyone searching for gifts or simply yearning to stretch the legs and stroll among the festive stalls. I first heard about Basilica Farm & Flea from my sister-in-law. Knowing of my interest in markets and in the Hudson Valley, she didn’t have to twist my arm. The morning after Thanksgiving, my husband and I put the dog in the car and set off for the Hudson Valley.
When we arrived at Basilica Farm & Flea on Friday afternoon, the line stretched out the door. It gave us a chance to admire the building from outside. Constructed in 1880 as a foundry for producing steel railway wheels, it was acquired in 2000 by Patrick Doyle and Catherine Dodge Smith. Their renovation preserved the handsome industrial architecture. Large windows, brick walls, and terra cotta ceiling tiles maintain links to the past. It’s conveniently located only a few paces from Hudson’s Amtrak train station.
Patti Smith’s benefit concert here in 2003 helped raise awareness and funds to halt the development of a massive cement plant nearby. In 2010 the co-founders of Basilica Hudson, Melissa Auf der Maur (a musician and photographer) and Tony Stone (a filmmaker) took over the building, installed solar-powered energy, and set upon the mission of creating a multidisciplinary arts center for the public. Basilica Hudson serves as a community gathering place for performances, films, visual art exhibits, and regional culture. Most programming occurs on weekends which suits the high percentage of weekenders. In 2013, the first Farm & Flea Holiday Market was born with a “no bar code” ethos to support the area’s farmers and artisans.
Basilica Farm & Flea is a combination of farmers’ market, vintage market, and craft market. Over the course of last weekend’s Thanksgiving market, the Basilica’s 10,000 square feet filled with upwards of 7500 attendees and over 90 vendors. Two-thirds were selling crafts, collectibles, and vintage goods. Prepared or packaged food vendors and farm stands made up the balance in roughly equal proportion. Hillrock Estate Distillery offered samples of their prize-winning spirits. Cheese boards and other hand-carved woodwork at Grayworks Design were fashioned from sustainable hardwood from the Catskill Mountains. Christmas stockings made by Kelly & Co brimmed with holiday spirit. Sawkill Farm touted their fragrant soaps made with 100% grass-fed tallow, which is said to be nourishing for the skin. Needle-felted figures at PetitFelts, dried flowers from Tiny Hearts Farm in Copake, NY, and artisanal cheeses from Chaseholm Farm Creamery in Pine Plains were among the other eclectic offerings that showcased the talents of artisans and farmers who’ve claimed Hudson Valley as their home.
Basilica Farm & Flea is a fun holiday market and likely to continue thriving as the Hudson Valley region grows in popularity as a destination spot.
For antique hunters, there are a couple options near Basilica Hudson, such as The Other Company. Rustic tables, rickety garden furniture, and the occasional extravagant flourish will likely find fresh use. Hudson has a plethora of antiques dealers along Warren Street.
We stayed with our sister-in-law in her newly renovated and very stylish, sparely decorated farmhouse in Catskill with an airy all-white décor. Catskill is directly across the river from the town of Hudson. The area is booming with an influx of artists, farmers, and foodies—a point driven home in a recent article describing Catskill as “a new mecca for artisans.”
Basilica Hudson is located at 110 South Front St., Hudson, NY 12534. Upcoming events include the Basilica Farm & Flea Spring Market (May 7-8, 2017), Hudson Valley Cider & Cheese tasting, and Basilica Soundscape. For details on these and other programs, see their website.