This Saturday will be the first market of the season for the Urbana Market at the Square! The market runs each Saturday between May 3rd and November 1st, from 7 a.m. to noon. Once the market arrives, spring has truly come to central Illinois! This is a really fun event that welcomes the whole C-U community. There is the opportunity to get some great local produce, to sample items from the food trucks, to shop the wares of local artisans, and maybe even taste some local wine! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to come browse all the new changes to the market and see some old friends. This year the market is adding a new seating area for eating, so make a plan to try out the food trucks and the new market furniture.
This year the market celebrates 35 years in Urbana. Started in 1979, the market is a cultural institution and a place for friends and neighbors to get fresh produce, craft items and more. The market is a producer-only market, which means that there are no wholesale produce trucks driving miles to drop off your fruit and veggies; all the produce is grown locally and the market staff ensures that it is compliant with the market standards for sustainability. The market has really grown in recent years and now boasts more than 158 vendors and patron attendance in the thousands.
Produce will be ramping up this weekend, as the weather is finally cooperating a bit more. It has been a particularly long winter, so some things might be a bit behind schedule, but asparagus, hydroponic tomatoes, lettuce and maybe even some spinach and kale. There will be lots of flowers, both cut into bouquets and potted, a great assortment of cheeses, meats, local honey, baked goods, and lots of handmade items. Additionally, this time of year the market features a lot of potted herbs to add to your garden like basil, mint, and oregano. If you are looking for a great gift for Mother’s day there will be an assortment of handmade jellies, jams, cheese, and handmade soap.
There is one new big, exciting change this summer at the market as well that Smile Politely readers will want to know about. The city of Urbana has granted a liquor license to the market to sell alcoholic beverages. The market will be offering local beer and wine, and by the end of the season perhaps a few other items. So far, Sleepy Creek Vineyards has been the first to take advantage of the new liquor license and set up a vendor booth at the market. They intend to offer tastings of a few of their wines at the market.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall just in case you buy so much you need a few more bucks. LINK card tokens are still available. See information about LINK here.
Parking: Parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street for FREE! Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the market off of Illinois.
Information: The market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the Market on facebook and twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. Check out the map of the vendors. If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny-Marquez, or call her at 217-384-2319. And check out the market flickr for some great photos from the market each week — maybe you’ll even be in a few!
The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 1st. All events are scheduled rain or shine.
All photos from Facebook.