'Way more fun than going to the grocery store': Elgin Farmers Market back for 22nd season
The Downtown Elgin Farmers Market will kick off its 22nd season next week with a promise of more produce and more fun.
Over 40 vendors are confirmed to participate in the market, which opens on June 3. It will include seven fruit and vegetable growers, the segment of the market most requested by shopper feedback in past years.
"We're excited to have produce at a much larger scale this year," said Sarah Michaels, the farmers market manager. "But we're also excited to bring the fun back and have a place for people to come out and be able to enjoy themselves again."
More than 15,000 shoppers visited the market on Spring Street -- between Chicago and Fulton Streets -- in 2021. Weather permitting, it will be open each Friday from June 3 to Oct. 14, generally from 3 to 7 p.m.
Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables, market shoppers will also find meat and eggs, local honey, sauces and jams, olives and nuts, spices, pet products and more from returning vendors.
New sellers this year include Ferdie's Cabin, a dessert food cart from Bartlett; Wild Cherry, which makes hand-chiseled wooden kitchen items; and Trippots Plant Boutique, a West Dundee-based houseplant business. In addition to more vendors, the Downtown Neighborhood Association that runs the market hopes to bring a more experiential flavor than other markets may offer.
"We don't want this to be like going to the grocery store," association Executive Director Jennifer Fukala said. "It should be way more fun than going to the grocery store."
New this year will be First Fridays. It is an expanded experience that will add an extra hour on the back end of the first Friday market of each month and bring food trucks, more live entertainment, chef demos and special demonstrations from community partners.
After the market closes at 8 p.m. on First Fridays, select local businesses will participate in an "After Hours" program that will include specialty food and drinks, entertainment, discounts and deals. Vern's Tavern, Martini Room, Elgin Public House, BeaUnique Latin Kitchen, Dream Hall and Kubo Sushi are among the businesses slated to participate.
Sip and shop returns for its third year, with alcohol sales from local restaurants available in the confines of the market.
The market each week will also focus on a unique theme, including a kids day, health and wellness Day, art at the market and a local history day. Theme days will incorporate partnerships with local nonprofits who will be on-site to provide programming.
Fukala said interest from vendors was higher than in the past few years.
"Farmers market vendors are small businesses, and our vendor community has been going through a lot of same trials and tribulations the small business community has the last two years with COVID," she said. "We're seeing a lot more people get back in the markets that maybe took a pause the past couple of years."