Something incredible happened as the Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market, 2022 opened for the season Saturday morning.
The sun was out. It didn’t rain.
“Thank goodness,” said Market Manager Myra Gorman. “We were hoping for a beautiful day, and we got a beautiful day.”
Fifty-four vendors, selling everything from plants to produce, pasta to portobellos, were on hand for the cool but sunny day.
More than 5,000 shoppers were expected to visit, perhaps as many as 7,000. That was the typical range in the past couple of years, despite COVID-19.
Gorman says the number of shoppers actually increased during the pandemic, because with so many other things closed or allowing limited attendance, the Evanston market gave people “something to do” outdoors that was fun.
Cordell and Sarah Larkin, along with friends Luke and Jessica Hemenetz, and 11-week-old Zach Hemenetz, were among the opening day visitors.
“I love the market,” said Sarah. “It has a little bit of everything.”
Luke said, “I like to check out the baked goods, and look for the deals.”
One thing that made both shoppers and vendors happy: the trial balloon floated last year to move the market to the Fountain Square area popped and collapsed.
“It’s dead,” said Gorman, of the idea proposed by the Downtown Evanston marketing group.
“We didn’t want it. The vendors wanted to stay here,” at the parking lot, next to the Maple Avenue garage, because there is “more space,” Gorman explained.
So as long as Northwestern University, which owns the parking lot, doesn’t look to sell or develop it, the location seems secure.
Jonathan Utley, manager of the Farmers’ Market program for the Miseracordia social services agency, was glad to be back.
Miseracordia (“Heart of Mercy” in Latin) has both residential and non-residential programs for more than 600 adults with developmental disabilities.
The facility’s on-site bakery provides work training for participants.
Besides providing bread for the program, the bakery also goes on the road to farmers’ markets.
The name, “Hearts and Flour,” sums up the purpose and the product.
“Everyone has a job, based on their abilities,” Utley said.
The Evanston Farmer’s Market dates to 1975. It’s open on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 5. Seniors and the disabled can get an early shopping start at 7 a.m.
‘It’s a real community kind of event,” said Gorman.
“This is what people in Evanston love.”