I have played my fair share of Farmers' Markets this year. Everything from huge Saturday markets that see thousands of people every week to very small weekday markets with only a handful of vendors. One would naturally think that the best ones to busk at would be the largest and in many cases they are; but not always.
I did indeed play a very large market this past weekend for the second time this year and couldn't help but feel the special "vibe" here. All the vendors were cheerful and friendly, glad to see the patrons who came. They celebrated with applause every so often when I played a song they liked. The patrons celebrated to. The market managers (a husband and wife team) walked around tirelessly all morning greeting the vendors and patrons in a good morning, glad you're here kind of way. They even tipped me to say thanks for coming! You could feel the good mood in the air. Small crowds of encouraging parents and dancing children would form around me every hour or so. It was an amazing experience! This "vibe" permeated the entire market lasting right up to the bell signaling the end of the day. Busking at this market was truly the best experience I've had and my personal favorite.
Then there are the smaller markets. I recently played one of these a few weeks ago. Maybe a couple hundred patrons visited the fifteen or so vendors here. Surprisingly, however, the experience was remarkably similar to that of busking at the larger market. But why? The "vibe" was the same. The vendors were all in a great mood, having fun, laughing, celebrating. The "vibe" spread and it ended up being a great time all over again.
Final thoughts on playing at Farmers' Markets? It's isn't the size of the market that makes it a good one, it's the size of the people's hearts who are there and the connections made with them. It's the whole reason I play music in the first place.