What you'll find at Geneva's Indoor Winter Farmers Market
It's not every place you can walk in and see a display of baked goods, or canned jams, or a table for women's all-natural makeup and soaps -- right near a booth at which a fellow is sharpening knives.
But it's all there each Saturday through April in the basement of the First Congregational Church at the corner of Hamilton and Fourth streets in Geneva. Patrons and interested visitors know it as Geneva Green Market, or the Indoor Winter Farmers Market.
Those who enjoy visiting these types of markets during our cold months know that each of the Tri-Cities offers one. Batavia holds one on Saturday mornings at Bar Evolution, and St. Charles' Baker Memorial United Methodist Church is the site of one every Friday morning through May.
On this particular Saturday morning, the yellow banner outside of the Geneva church touting the market caught my attention, so I stopped in for a visit. It didn't take long to realize these vendors love this particular operation.
"This is a great market, with a lot of repeat customers and many who followed us over here," said Mary Krystinak, while working her Heritage Prairie Farms booth.
"This is our first year at the Geneva market and it has been very good," said Krystinak, who operates Heritage Prairie Farms in Elburn with her husband, John.
"I would say there are a lot of die-hard shoppers here, those who want to buy local," John noted. "I would think that 60 to 75 percent of them are in here every week."
Even though the market is relatively small, it offers a nice mix of vendors -- plus some splendid breakfast food and goodies from Inglenook Pantry owners Mark and John Weaver.
After all, Mark's wife, Connie, was a co-founder of the Geneva Green Market, and has kept it going since launching it initially as a summer event in 2006.
And plenty of local people know about Inglenook Pantry, as the Weaver boys have served their Pennsylvania Dutch dishes from St. Charles and then Geneva for more than 40 years.
They've been a part of Connie's efforts for the market since its inception.
"In the winter months, between 2007 and 2011, we operated it as a winter indoor market at the Inglenook Pantry building on Fifth Street," Connie said. "After we were no longer in that building, we did it out of Geneva Place until 2014, then came here to the church."
It was a fairly rare concept to have a winter indoor market when the Weavers first organized it. "It really was the first indoor winter market in the suburbs," John said.
Each vendor looks forward to the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. market on Saturdays.
During my visit, Glenna Armesy of Sugar Grove had a steady flow of ladies checking out her Earth's Secret booth with natural makeup and soaps. At the same time, Tom Korthauer of Oswego was sharpening a knife at his Cutting Edge by The Blacksmith booth.
"I probably sharpen about 10 to 20 knives here on a weekend, but I want people to know about my business in restoring antique tools and working on machinery," said Korthauer, who has been at the Geneva market two years. "So, for me, this is sort of like my day off."
For those with a little more of a sweet tooth, Janet Rieck comes down from Crystal Lake each weekend to set up her Goods 'n Bakery table, while Amy Deangeles of North Aurora operates her Amy's Biscotti table.
As you might guess, I hung around by those tables a fair amount.
Business was booming:
The local history books will tell you that immigrants and settlers who called the Fox River Valley their home at the beginning of the 20th century were in the right place at the right time.
For the most part, if they opened a business, it did pretty well.
The St. Charles History Museum is ready to take us down that memory lane, offering an exhibit of about 14 companies that have had a lasting legacy in St. Charles.
I've probably written about all of them at one time or another, but it is a great idea to put all of this information in one place. A public reception to open the exhibit is set for 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8.
And which businesses are featured? You'll recognize these names. Among them would be Colonial Café and Ice Cream, Blue Goose Market, Rehm Electric, Cable Piano Company, Heinz Cut Glass and Howell Manufacturing.
Find that groundhog:
Someone might consider me crazy if my answer to the question of "What did you do on Groundhog Day?" was that I actually was looking for a groundhog.
No one is ever going to ask anyone that question, of course. But you can look for a groundhog on Sunday, Feb. 2.
The Kane County Forest Preserve is offering a Groundhog Day hike from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Les Arends Forest Preserve in Batavia.
Looking around for woodchucks might be of interest to some, but I am mostly mentioning this because the trail along the river in Les Arends is really nice.
All ages are welcome to this nature program, but advanced registration is required at (630) 444-3190 or by email to email@example.com.
It does get warmer:
The winter certainly hasn't been horrific this year, but just in case you need signals that warmer weather eventually shows up, how about these?
Mill Race Cyclery in Geneva offers a five-week bike tuneup class session from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, through Feb. 29. Contact the shop for details.
Also, though I likely wouldn't notice such a thing immediately, when we walk into a department store, my wife is quick to say, "Oh, spring clothes are out."
My thoughts? No, they aren't. I'm still wearing a few layers of sweatshirts and a winter coat.