Outdoor alcohol likely coming to farmers market in Elgin
Customers of the weekly Downtown Elgin Farmers Market would be able to consume alcohol at outdoor tables and roam the market with alcohol in plastic cups once a new policy goes into effect, likely in late August or early September.
The Elgin City Council gave the initial OK Wednesday to allowing businesses within the market's footprint who already have liquor licenses to offer the new feature. Those businesses are Al's Cafe & Creamery, Dream Hall, Bricks Wood Fired Pizza, Kubo Sushi and Sake Lounge, and Dog's Paw Brewing.
A final vote is expected in mid-August, and the businesses will then have to apply for $25 annual permits. The market on South Grove Avenue runs through Oct. 4.
People will need to get wristbands to walk around with alcohol and will not be permitted to take it outside the perimeter of the market, said Jennifer Fukala, executive director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin. Entry points to the market, including alleyways, will be monitored, she said.
Councilman Corey Dixon called it "an excellent idea."
Councilwoman Tish Powell agreed. "I think it will add to the whole ambience that we are creating downtown with the farmers market, which has been very popular since we changed the dates and times, and the location," she said.
Councilman Toby Shaw cast the only "no" vote, saying he is concerned about enforcement challenges.
The idea came after visiting the Rockford City Market, which has a "sip and shop" component, Fukala said.
We saw an opportunity based on our place and location, and consistent with our mission of the (association) supporting the downtown businesses," she said.
Elgin's farmers market has had 7,200 people in attendance so far, already surpassing last year's total of about 5,000 people, Fukala said.
Bricks Pizza co-owner Frank Sibr said sales are up 75% on Fridays.
"I am really proud of what (the association) has done for us," he told the council.