The Sadistic Mistress booth displays hot sauce containing locally grown peppers. But I resist sampling when someone stocking up on the “I Can’t Feel My Face” variety warns me that the concoctions “fry your taste buds.” I opt for organic greens so tasty that they don’t need dressing, as well as herbs, berries and handmade pasta perfect for dinner with my friends.
The market’s bicycle-powered smoothie-maker is absent, so I refuel with farm-made sorbet. It vanishes quickly as I listen to “two old pickers” — their description, not mine — play classic bluegrass.
The stone courthouse, a handsome example of Romanesque Revival architecture, now houses three museums with a variety of local artifacts, from the skeleton of Hanover, a late-19th century Secretariat who won the Belmont by 15 lengths, to race-riot gear, to a reconstructed 1800s pharmacy complete with ancient apothecary jars of opium poppy pods.
At the ArtsPlace building on Mill Street, the Lexington Traditional Dance Association offers dirt-cheap weekend contra dance nights that start with lessons for beginners. Since I’m early, I wander into the complex’s gallery, filled with mixed-media works by area artists. Another short stroll leads to my next fix at the Artists’ Attic in Victorian Square, where studio artists eagerly discuss their techniques. A few blocks away, at Shorty’s Urban Market on West Short Street, folks file in for one of its Cellar 157 wine tastings. Rather than imbibe on an empty stomach, I buy some fresh organic fruit and move on.
Posters filling the windows reveal novel varieties of fall color. One advertises brunch drag shows at Natasha’s Bistro. The windows of Alfalfa, a beloved downtown restaurant, serve as art galleries of superb graphic design. Touting open-mike jams to urban chicken coop tours, the posters include many created by long-ago Alfalfa cook John Lackey, who recently moved his Homegrown Press into a nearby former bakery.
I use a self-guided tour brochure to navigate around Cheapside’s neighboring historic-plaqued buildings and graceful Gratz Park, a leaf-peeper’s delight. The air’s fragrant with brilliant trees, flowers and . . . peanut butter? Yes, confirms a couple sitting on a porch; it wafts from a factory northeast of town. The aroma reminds me that there’s fresh-baked bread in my backpack.
This edible objet d’art should remain unmarred until dinner with my friends. But craving trumps denial, so after running my fingers over the dainty bas relief decorations, I pop a piece into my mouth and drift into dough-induced bliss.