Chefs, farmers will transform downtown parking garage into Moonlight Market, honoring a farmers market visionary _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - The Moonlight Market, a fundraiser for the Crescent City Farmers Markets, gathers chefs and food producers for a casually festive night.

On Saturday mornings, farmers, food producers, chefs and home shoppers turn a downtown parking lot into a hands-on showcase of regional food culture at the Crescent City Farmers Market. Next Saturday (Oct. 10), many of them will also return in the evening for a party conceived in the same spirit just across the street.

The Crescent City Farmers Market debuted a new event last year called Moonlight Market, which serves as a fundraiser for its work. It proved to be a casually festive night of robustly fresh food and creative drinks, served by chefs who are farmers market regulars and often inspired by that morning’s haul from the market stands.

This year, Moonlight Market is also a celebration of the market’s 20th anniversary and a tribute to the late Boatner Reily III. As head of Reily Foods Co., he gave the Crescent City Farmers Market founders access to their first market space back in 1995, opening the mural-lined parking lot of his family’s downtown business to the then-fledgling market concept.

“It took a leap of faith to make that happen and invite this market in back then when it was really just an idea,” said Kathryn Parker, executive director of Market Umbrella, the parent organization for the Crescent City Farmers Market. “He was a visionary and a lot of what we’ve done since wouldn’t have happened without him.”

Moonlight Market is held within sight of that market lot, at 725 Magazine St. It’s inside a parking garage with old brick walls, thick timbers and incongruously fancy chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. It starts to strongly resemble a food market once it fills with the restaurants’ serving tables, the bars for beer, wine and cocktails and the noshing crowd.

There’s live music from King James and the Special Men, the band that Advocate music contributor Alex Rawls called “the champions of New Orleans classic R&B.” And the roster of restaurants, chefs and specialty food suppliers participating includes some of the city’s classics, like Commander’s Palace, Emeril’s and Clancy’s, and plenty of its newer hotspots, like Angeline, Boucherie, La Petite Grocery and Shaya.

The event begins at 7 p.m. The all-inclusive tickets are $45 until Oct. 8 ($60 thereafter). Get them online here or at the markets this week.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.