Elgin's revamped farmers market gets thumbs up
If its first hour in business Friday was any indication, the revamped Elgin Farmers Market -- with a new name, location and hours -- promises to have a successful summer.
"I think it's nicer," said Fabio Esparza, who came with his daughters, ages 10 and 12, and was among the crowd that gathered early. "It's in between the historic buildings, it looks nice. And probably it will get better and better. People will start talking about it and knowing about it."
The market, formerly known as the Elgin Harvest Market, takes places from 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays along South Grove Avenue, in the heart of downtown between DuPage Court and Fulton Street. For many years it was held Thursday mornings across from the public library. It is organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin and runs through October.
The market is expected to average about 20 vendors a week and will offer locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs, manager Christina Gonzales said. Only 20 percent of vendors will sell nonfood items, she said.
"This year I made it the mission to actually have food and produce," she said, addressing a longtime complaint that the market didn't offer enough of that. "I wanted us to be completely revamped."
The offerings are based on crop yield, so on Friday that meant lettuce, tomato plants, sunflower plants and herbs such as basil and rosemary.
"When berry season comes, we'll have berries. Later on in the season we'll have squash," Association Executive Director Jennifer Fukala said. "We were very determined that everything had to be locally produced. It defeats the purpose to have products that you're flying in."
Luann and Rodney Hopkins also gave the thumbs-up to the revamped market, happy to find last year's honey vendor. "And now that we made contact with her, we will get it all year," Luann said.
Jennifer Polit, who co-owns Legit Dogs & Ice on South Grove, said downtown business owners are happy to have the farmers market in their midst.
"Especially as a new business, we are still trying to spread the word," she said. "Walking out and seeing this crowd and hearing the music today made me really happy."
On the first Friday of the month, the market will partially overlap with "First Friday" events organized by nearby Side Street Studio Arts, which includes kids programs, food trucks and live music.