Chef demos, weekly themes featured at this year's Elgin Farmers Market
This year's expanded Farmers Market in downtown Elgin will feature chef demos and weekly themes centered around dogs, arts and crafts, biking, yoga, books and more.
The market organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin started Friday and will offer a variety of products throughout the season, including fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat, honey handmade crafts, pet products and body care items. It will take place 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays, rain or shine, through Oct. 4 along South Grove Avenue, between DuPage Court and Fulton Street, and along DuPage Court.
About 50 vendors have signed up so far, market manager Christina Gonzales said. About 30 came Friday and more will show up as produce grows, she said.
"I was amazed by the variety of vendors. There were lots and lots of people there," resident Danise Habun said. "It was just a nice, relaxing, beautiful afternoon."
There are several new vendors this year, including Surpassing Suburbia, a local farmer offering mushrooms and ready-to-grow plants, and Bida Baking, which sold churros at last month's Cinco de Mayo festivities, Gonzales said. "We're also hoping to bring some flower vendors," she said. "Our application is ongoing, so they can join us whenever they want."
The weekly themes starting next Friday are designed to be fun and educational, Gonzales said. The first will be "Pollinator Day," when a local beekeeper will bring a live hive so people can learn what beekeeping is all about.
The chef demos are offered by Your Neighborhood, a new Elgin-based organization that will give out recipe cards with budget-friendly ingredient alternatives, Gonzales said.
The goal of the market is to increase access to fresh, local foods. People covered by the state's supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, can get an additional $20 at the market when they use their Illinois EBT Link card, Gonzales said. This program is sponsored by the Elgin branch of BMO Harris Bank.
The city's sustainability commission will promote things like recycling and solar energy, and the Gail Borden Public Library will bring its book wagon so people can check out books and sign up for library cards. Elgin Area School District U-46 will be there sometime in August to promote "Project Backpack," which provides school supplies to children in need, Gonzales said.
The market averaged 30 to 35 vendors per day last year, when it moved to its current location and attracted about 5,000 people, an increase of at least 25 percent compared to 2017, DNA officials said.