Located underneath the Fuller Warren Bridge, The Northbank Riverwalk Artists’ Square is one of Jacksonville’s greatest shared public spaces. The Artists’ Square celebrates community with pop-up concerts, car shows, food festivals and other events, but the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) is the best representation imaginable attracting over 4,000 patrons each week.
Operating since 2009, RAM has become an integral aspect of the entire city providing a space for local businesses to intimately connect with the general public; there aren’t many other attractions able to consistently draw cranky beachsiders away from their sandy bungalows. The market operates year round, rain or shine, and is something the whole community can consistently count on.
Launched by Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP), RAM was modeled after a similar arts and farmers market concept in Portland, Oregon. RAP has been advocating with and for the community, promoting local businesses and preserving the uniqueness of the Riverside Avondale area since 1974. The space under the Fuller Warren Bridge was originally designed to be a retention pond surrounded by a chain link fence, but founder of Riverside Avondale Preservation, Wayne Wood, had a better vision for the space. RAM’s prominence for more than a decade—and consecutive wins in Folio’s Best of Jax—shows his vision was spot on.
The market operates on a few values: to be welcoming and inclusive, to communicate and act with transparency and accountability, to build relationships and foster healthy dialogue, and to respect what came before and anticipate what lies ahead. Each week hundreds of vendors display their goods, and thousands of customers are able to purchase art, gifts, decor and other handmade items, as well as fresh produce, directly stimulating local businesses.
Not only is RAM a place for consumers, it’s a place for schmoozers and people looking to broaden their involvement in their community. With so many local businesses and organizations in one place, you’d be hard pressed to find someone you can’t find something in common with, let alone the opportunity to find your next passion.
If you’ve never been to RAM, definitely throw it on your to-do list for 2022.