Farmers market in Palatine will be among first to open for season
With the weather expected to break into the 80s and the farmers market kicking off its season, Saturday might feel just like summer in Palatine.
The Palatine Farmers' Market is among the first outdoor markets in northern Illinois opening this weekend. The Palatine market is operated by Marg Duer, who founded it 30 years ago, and the Sister Cities Association of Palatine, which joined the effort in 2015.
"Evanston opens on May 1 and we open on May 1. That's all I know of," Duer said.
The outdoor market takes place, as usual, in the parking lot of the Palatine Metra train station at Smith and Wood streets. It will have about 25 vendors -- "there is not one inch to spare," Duer said -- and masks and social distancing will be required for the second consecutive year.
Vendors will sell produce, spices, soap, dog treats, pies, cheese, pretzels, doughnuts, tamales, soups, honey and more.
While the produce selection will be more bountiful later in the season, on Saturday shoppers can find rhubarb, asparagus, lettuce, radish, onions and garlic, Duer said. "The produce guys are doing more with hoop houses and greenhouses. They have more (produce) early that is locally grown," she said.
Sweet C's Bakery, absent last year, will return this year, welcome in the wake of the closure in January of the Starbucks inside the Metra station, Duer said.
Newcomers include The Aves Spice Co. based in DeKalb, which offers a variety of naturally fermented hot sauces. "They are very good -- the committee tasted them," Duer said.
Another newcomer is Warrenville-based Pretzel Crack, which sells pretzels in flavors like cinnamon roll, ranch, salt and vinegar, and many more. "He will be an exciting addition," she said.
Food can only be handled by vendors, just like last year. "You shouldn't go around squeezing the tomatoes like you do at the grocery store," Duer said. "You can point out, and the grower can handle it."
Eating and socializing can take place in a reserved area outside the market, near musicians who will perform on the train platform.
Customers will have the chance to win market products in a $1 raffle every Saturday. The proceeds will go to a cause to be chosen by the Sister Cities Association of Palatine, Duer said.
Last year, the money was supposed to be for a scholarship for a student of French who was going to immersive learning in the French city of Fontenay-le-Comte, Palatine's sister city, but the pandemic put a damper on those plans, Duer said.
The association also held an outdoor, drive-through winter market that ended in mid-April.
The outdoor summer market runs 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from May to October. Visit palatinesistercities.org/farmers-market.