The Youngstown Flea

As summer approaches, there are always memories that flood my mind. Summer vacations at the beach without a care in the world. Adventures at the local park with sunset as the only destination. Long bike rides with no direction, just a desire to ride. The thrills of going to an amusement park. My favorite had to have been all the local festivals and fairs. I think I liked those best because I got to have fun with my friends and eat good food. With millennials slowly creeping towards middle age and a new generation succeeding the throne of young and exciting, I believe we have found the next summer memory maker. The Youngstown Flea will surely be a backdrop to lifelong memories for old and new generations alike.We were elated and brimming with anticipation when owner and founder Derrick invited us to document the Youngstown Flea. Most bigger cities have been holding these types of events for years. Just a stone’s throw away, you can find the Cleveland Flea or the Neighborhood Flea in Pittsburg. This collaborative event is also not to be confused with your run of the mill flea market. This is not a place for any vendor to show up and peddle used CD’s out of their trunk. Now that you know what the Youngstown Flea is not, I suppose it’s time to talk about what it is. This is a city event where local/regional vendors can come and share hand-made goods. There is also a strong food truck presence which is why Spade and I were in attendance. They have yoga in the morning as well and live music through out the day. Did I mention this event is pet-friendly too? Imagine all the best parts of a carnival, festival, and flea market put together. It is a time to leave the suburbs, come into the city and enjoy all things North East Ohio. It’s the kind of place you can spend the afternoon eating, shopping, and meeting new people. In a culture where you can even order your groceries online, I think this is quite a novel idea. The Flea can be found once a month next to the Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown. The next event date is this weekend—Saturday, May 20th—so be sure to clear your schedules. (You can find all other event dates and info at their website youngstownflea.com)On the cusp of a growing foodie scene in the Mahoning Valley, food trucks are on the rise. Don’t confuse a food truck with the vendor at your local county fair. While the fair fodder has its place in the portfolio of any real foodie, you’re not going to find an elephant ear or fried pickle at one of these vendors. Food trucks were birthed from a culture of hungry (no pun intended) culinary conquerors often with little start-up money but massive ambition. The food trucks we encountered on this episode of the Youngstown Flea were top notch. One of our favorites was The Hunger Squad from Chagrin Falls. This was a legit mom and pop shop. The couple dealt out fine eats that would surely save anyone from hunger’s wrath. They had a chili mac n’ cheese that would make your heart skip a beat. The heart and soul of the operation is the couple’s desire to fill not only your stomachs, but your heart as well. We also made a pit stop at the Smokin’ Rock n’ Roll truck from Cleveland,Ohio, where we had some killer pulled-pork sliders. The barbecue sauce on these mini pieces of heaven had me head bangin’ for more.The food trucks were not the only avenues for good eats at the flea. There was also more than a few food tents. We have made some friends while on this journey to foodie nirvana here in the Mahoning Valley and some of those great people were at the flea on this occasion. We got to stop in for a cortado (my favorite of course) with Culture House Coffee. Dined on a few particular pastries with our friend Aubrey from Whipped by Aubrey. Tried a few spicy condiments with the ladies at Two Hot Mamas. Picked up some hand-painted truffles and fun-flavored cotton candy from Sugar Bomb. Our new friend Jackie from White Church Co even treated us to a wine infused jam. There seemed to be no end in sight as we toured the food scene at the Flea. As you can tell, we left the Flea a few pounds heavier that day.The Youngstown Flea is one of the most inventive, creative and community driven ideas to come to the city. The concept brings us back to a society where we can interact with one another again and even meet new people. No matter what your interests are the Flea has something for you. It brings together all ages, races, and genders. As the Flea moves forward in its second season we cannot wait to bring you more insider tips for dining at the Flea. So join us at the next Flea and make Youngstown great again!

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