This week I interviewed Sarah Simeziane, assistant to the market rirector, to learn a bit more about how the market runs and perhaps a few “tricks of the trade.” Thanks to Sarah for her time and all her advice; here’s what I learned!


First, Sarah told me that her job is to oversee the operation of the market.  She arrives very, very, early in the morning and helps vendors to find their spots and get set up. She and the market aides also help to check in musicians and other performers. Sarah mentioned that she really loves it when harpist Katy Maltry plays near the market tent since the harp music is calming and creates a peaceful atmosphere.

Market aides also swipe LINK cards, set up signs and barricades, help patrons, and provide directions. Every single time I have been at the market tent, they are super busy answering lots of questions. The market staff works very hard to make every market a great experience for patrons. 

Sarah says that aside from the getting up early part, she really loves working at the market. Being outside and “getting to scope out the best produce” are a few of her favorite things. She has also been serving as the marke'st photographer; all the beautiful official pictures of the market are her work. Check out the market’s  Facebook page or flickr to see some of her photos.

I asked Sarah if she had any advice for Smile Politely market patrons to get the best out of their market experience. Here’s what she had to say:

My advice is to come to the market early and often. Early in the season produce can be limited, so getting there around opening ensures a better selection (trust me, there are many patrons who arrive and start buying even before the market officially opens). Later in the summer, early is better simply due to the weather. On my weekends off, I try to stumble over as early as I can, pick up coffee and breakfast, and then head home to finish waking up. If you don’t like the crowds, then early is definitely the time to visit in these last weeks. People are definitely waking up later, and there seems to be a mad rush around 10:00.

My other advice is to embrace the seasons. When a particular fruit or vegetable is in season, take advantage; they won’t last forever. I was particularly sad to see the blueberries fade out, but they were fantastic while they lasted. Also, keep in mind that even if some of the prices seem higher in comparison to a supermarket, the produce at the market was harvested just a day or two before you get it, so it’s much fresher and will last longer if you get a little overly ambitious in your weekly menu planning.

Sarah also asked me to remind all of you that there is still a lot more left this season, as the market runs through November 2. 

This week be on the lookout for apples—they are everywhere! They will also debut new market apparel and bags this weekend, so if you just have to have a “put a bird on it” shirt, this is your chance.  Adult t-shirts are $10, and kids t-shirts are $8. 

As usual, here is the full round up of Market info:

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of those. See information about LINK tokens here. If you run out of cash at the market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall.

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. 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: You can follow the Market on Facebook and twitter. Sign up for market mail here.  If you want more information, you can email director Natalie Kenny Marquez, or call her at 217-384-2319. And check out their flickr for some gorgeous photos, many by Sarah!

The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 2. All events are scheduled rain or shine. C-U at the Market!