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Zucchini 500 races happen at dozens (if not, hundreds) of farmers’ markets across the continent. One of our board members got wind of the idea in 2014 via Farmers Markets Ontario and set it in motion. 2019 is our sixth year!

Some fun snaps from races over the years – Click to see full size.

We did minimal research before deciding how to make this zany concept our own. We improvised the rules based on what we thought they should be. To this day we (at least I,) have no idea what the Zucchini 500 rules are at other markets….nor how they spell zucchini!

As you may know, Kingston is blessed with a seriously talented hodge-podge of community arts types and dedicated volunteers….

Our friends at Minotaur Games & Gifts thought it was a riot and offered up much of the early sweat and elbow grease. The (sadly no more) Kingston Makerspace agreed that “making stuff with tools” is always an excellent time. We were all very lucky to capture the imagination of Bill Racz at Loyalist Scouting who agreed that their specialized KubKar track was a great fit for the event too, and could prevent the potential disappointment of squash with wayard wheels! Kingston Community Credit Union had an outreach table that first year, and we thought it would be a lark for them to do the “paperwork” at the registration table. With the exception of Kingston Makerspace, those roles remain unchanged!

Those of us who were around the table that first year, came up with this:

  • This is about silly fun and self-expression
  • Must have a building party the day before
  • Must be non-competitive
  • Prize Draws for everyone!
  • Fastest Car wins bragging rights and wears the super-glitzy Zucchini 500 Champion Belt for the remainder of their visit at market.

This is the belt.

We try to add a little something more to it each year.

The race was an instant hit. Everyone loved this unique addition to market. We are in awe each year of the creativity and ingenuity on display.

Over the years, we’ve learned that the exact aerodynamic properties of any given garden zucchini are infinitely varied and therefore unknowable. We are surprised each year by who wins. In 2015, everyone was stunned when the winner was a 3 year old who had made minimal (no) alterations to their vegemobile, save a Playmobil passenger. Folks who try to take this race too seriously, or are “in it to win it” are the most likely to leave disappointed.

Snaps from the 2018 car-making party at Minotaur. Click to see full size.

The Family Survival Kit

Despite (and because of) all the excitement and anticipation that comes with being part of the races, we’ve collected some helpful tips for everyone looking to get the most out of their experience:

  1. Know that it’s happening. We’re doing our best to get the word out and encourage folks to plan to be there rather than stumble across it. Because…
  2. It’s WAY easier to make the car in advance! It reduces the overall amount of time spent at market (especially if your wee’uns can only manage a 20-45min stay) and frees up table space for those who truly stumble across it. Pick up a KubKar kit (or old kubkar) from a (thrift) shop, online, or from market starting July 7th.
  3. Use colourful stuff out of the recycling bin to decorate! Get creative! No need to buy stuff, though we’ll have a great stash of donated supplies to work with at Minotaur & at market.
  4. There will be hot glue guns and sharp things at our maker tables. We have plenty of volunteers available, but we ultimately look to parents and caregivers to help out and assess what they are comfortable with their kids using.
  5. You can always just watch the first year. If you don’t have the time to stay for the whole event, make a point to arrive between 11:00 and 12:00 to admire the artwork and cheer on the racers!
  6. We offer test runs on the track at 10:30am before the races begin. This is the best time to make any last minute adjustments before the races begin in earnest.
  7. The winning heat might run as late as 12:00, which is still a long time to be at market on a hot day… which is another reason to register in advance and make a car at home or at our building party the day before.
  8. Plan to have snacks or eat lunch beforehand. As the races run late morning through lunch time, it’s best to prevent hangry racers by having an early lunch or snacks on hand.
  9. Try to manage your expectations. You never know who is going to win. We take 1 car from each heat into the next round. This means if you happen to share a heat with the winning car, you may be eliminated long before you thought you should be. Be cool, like a cucumber corvette!
  10. Please return the car base. Our die-hard families re-use the same bases each year, but if you aren’t sure from year to year, it’s also easy to return it for someone else to use next year. In turn, we are committed to offering a free event for years to come!

Thank you for reading. Here’s to many more startlingly stunning examples of vegeful vehicular expression!

Register here

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Wear Flowers to Market Day

Sunday May 5th – 9:00am-2:00pm

Market finally moves back outside for the summer season! Visitors are encouraged to celebrate by wearing flowers, flower-print, or anything that makes you feel “springy”. Join local floral artists in the new Art Barn to make flower crowns and garlands. Music by Erin Parker 10am-1pm.

Photo Gallery – RSVP & Share on Facebook

Yoga Class on the Grass

Weekly 10:00-11:00am – Sunday May 12th through October 13th

Join Janati Yoga School at centre of market for a FREE 1-hour yoga class-on-the-grass throughout the summer months. Class is suitable for all levels and abilities. Weather dependent. Follow @memorialmarket on Twitter or Instagram for updates.

Tai Chi on the Grass

Weekly 11:15-12:00pm – Sunday May 19th through October 13th

Join Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi for a FREE 1hr Tai Chi class in the grass every Sunday 11:15-12:15 throughout the summer months. Class is suitable for all levels and abilities. Please dress for the weather. Follow @memorialmarket on Twitter or Instagram for updates.

Kids’ Market

Sunday May 19th – 9:00am-2:00pm

A special market day for the wee ones! Pop by the Art Barn to make believe in a Mini Cardboard Market. Guest vendor Humanitarian Club at École élémentaire publique Madeleine-de-Roybon School will be selling “Pocket Buddies”, their ongoing fundraising project in support of numerous national and international charities. Learn more at the Pocket Buddies project website. Music by Fiddle Earth.

Photo Gallery – RSVP & Share on Facebook

Cycling Week & Bike Parade

Sunday June 2nd – 10:00-2:00pm

Join Frontenac Cycle, Yellow Bike Action and friends to kick-off Ontario Cycling Week! Cycle to market for special freebies and prize draws all day. 10am-1pm Bike Decoration Station at the Art Barn. 10am-1pm Tune-Up Station by Yellow Bike Action. 1pm-2pm Bike Parade (6km via City Park) led by Frontenac Cycle. Music by The Restless Soul Society 10am-1pm.

Local Food Week Celebration

Sunday June 9th – 9:00-2:00pm

Local Food Week takes place in concert with dozens of events at markets across the province. Featuring great family activities like interactive displays, games, and prize draws. Free Cake! Enjoy a slice of maple rhubarb cake prepared by Bread and Butter Bakery, served at 11am! Music by the Kitchen Gypsies 10am-1pm.

Zucchini 500 Races

Sunday July 21st – 9:00-12:30pm

What do you get when you put wheels on a zucchini? A silly Zucchini Car, that’s what! The popular Zucchini 500 race is back and full of silly fun for all ages. Car-making starts at 9am. Races at 11am sharp. Join Minotaur Games & Gifts Saturday July 20th  1-4pm for a Zucchini Car making party at 78 Princess St. All supplies provided free or by donation. Thank you to Loyalist Area Scouts for their help making   this event possible!

Picnic in the Park & Corn Roast

Sunday August 11th – 9:00-2:00pm

This annual BBQ Corn Roast is a celebration of the harvest season! Bring your picnic blankets, baskets and the whole family for games, prize draws, fresh corn-on-the-cob and free watermelon slices for all!

Local Burger Bash

Sunday September 8th – 11:00-2:00pm

Beef, lamb and veggie patties paired with fresh local toppings, buns, sauces, and salad – ALL the ingredients for these special burgers are provided by market vendors. You won’t find any brand-name ketchup at this burger party! Featuring live music & kid’s activities. $10 for your choice of burger, bun & salad. Vegan options available!


Sunday October 6th – 11:00-2:00pm

A truly local, truly mini, Oktoberfest Celebration! Platters featuring sausage, pretzels, mustard, and potato salad provided by participating market vendors. Mini-Beer Garden featuring a beer garden, live music and kids’ activities all day. $10 for your choice of platter & sides. Vegan options available!

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We are giving our vendors a break for the long weekend, so get all your ingredients, treats and fixings for the long weekend on the Thursday night instead!

Featuring a spring-themed barn PACKED with all your favourite local foods fresh produce, meats and alternatives, sauces & preserves, artisan crafts, live music, kid’s activities and more.

MUSIC – A Homegrown Music Festival Preview!
4-5pm Bon Evans
5-6pm Anthea Feaver
6-7pm Nadia Pacey
7-8pm Dympna McConnell

GAMES & PRIZES – For Kids of All Ages!

Scavenger Hunt: Win a Chocolate Bunny & Egg pack from CocoaBistro

Count the Flags: Win a 5-pack of “Animal Snot” from The Sheep Shelf your Natural Neighbour

RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook here.

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For $10 you receive a meat or vegan tasting platter with sausage, pretzel, and selection of toppings and condiments from our market vendors. Grill provided by Friendly Fires Kingston. Cooking & Serving support provided by Black Dog Hospitality Group.

Mini-Beer Garden featuring $5 mini-pints by Mackinnon Brothers Brewing!

Platters will be served from 11:00am until we sell out!


Chris Giguere 9:00-11:30

Euro Cafe Duo 11:30-2:00


Family Activities by Marine Museum of the Great Lakes 

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Volunteer Laura Hoag makes crafts with families at the Kids’ Activity Table. November 2017. Photo: JC Simko

Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market Turns Up the Heat in a New Location!

The Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market is pleased to announce an EARLY return to the barns at the Kingston Memorial Centre Sunday March 4th!

Originally scheduled for May, this year’s early move back to the barns at 303 York Street was largely inspired by feedback from shoppers.

“We’ve gotten lots of feedback that people love the look and feel of the barns, and we’ve always worked towards having a permanent year-round location,” reports Emma Barken, Operations Manager. “Recent investments by the City of Kingston in making the barns more comfortable have brought us closer to that goal.”

Trichia Coolen of Roots Down Organic Farm offers up some fresh veggies in early November 2017.

Since the first move to a year-round schedule by re-locating to the Princess St. United Church in 2016, the market has shown a slow but steady increase in sales.

“Since word of our market keeps spreading,” reports Barken, “we now have more committed weekly vendors than can fit in the church location. Our move will enable ten additional local small businesses to have that added source of income in the slower season.”

The Memorial Centre Farmers’ Market receives over 1000 visitors on average each week throughout the growing season.

For more information:


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