Friday, April 27, 2012

Final Countdown

Hm. A longer update was promised quite awhile ago, but it's been a crazy spring visiting farms:

PrairiErth Farm in Atlanta, IL

Processing applications:

Incredibly messy desk

and making Market plans. Updating the Internet on our doings kind of fell by the wayside, so we offer apologies all around! There will absolutely be more updates now that the season gets underway... gulp... a week from tomorrow.

The Market is never the same year-to-year, so longtime patrons will notice some changes in 2012. Among them:

- New vendors. Every year we're lucky enough to have new vendors in every category. We're looking forward to PrairiErth Farm joining us this year (Row 4), as well as Ludwig Farmstead Creamery (Row 4) and a wide variety of food producers and artisans. Any vendor that has a website will get added to our sidebar soon. It's also worth noting that many of our vendors have Facebook pages now - if you go to the Market's Facebook page and check out our "likes", you'll see them. We're updating as fast as we can! If you're interested in becoming a vendor at the Market, check out out vendor information page.

- Missing vendors. Every year some folks decide not to come back - they retire, or they move on to other endeavors. While it's hard to list everyone who might not be back this year (some may decide to join us later in the season), we know Steve and Connie Owens have retired from the flower business. Fortunately, Connie's cousin, Glen, is in the same business growing a lot of the same flowers - glads, mixed bouquets, etc. You'll find Oosterhoff and Son at the north end of Row 2, where Steve and Connie's spaces were. Steve and Connie sold flowers at the Market for over 20 years and were absolutely wonderful to work with. Also not joining us this year are Charlie Draper and John Coppess. Both these gentlemen work with leather and made great stuff - we'll definitely miss them as they spend time with grandchildren (Charlie) and pursue a career in music (John).

- Community organization re-relocation. Looking for the Champaign County Democrats? How about the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, U of I's Science at the Market, CIMIC, the Forest Preserve, or a host of other groups? You'll find them in row 5, facing east, in the same row as the Crave Truck and hopefully a bunch of other food trucks/prepared food booths. If your group is interested in participating, the application materials are available here.

- City tent relocation. The City tent (and those of its partner agencies) will no longer blend in with the vendor booths at the north end of the Market. We'll be moving to the intersection of Walnut and High Streets at the northwest so we'll be the first thing you see if you enter the Market that way. We're where you get your Market Scratch tokens (credit, debit, and LINK accepted!), your Market T-shirts, and information about vendors, groups, performance, and City of Urbana programs and services. This means, however....

- Walnut Street/High Street intersection will be closed to through traffic. This is the intersection at the corner near Health Alliance - the one you walk through to get to Common Ground Food Co-op or Art Mart from the Market (or vice-versa). It's become a dangerous intersection over the years, especially with the increase in foot traffic to and from Lincoln Square from the Market. We also needed more room and higher visibility for the City tent. To remedy these situations, vehicular traffic will no longer be permitted through the intersection. We'll have signs on the gates to remind you as you approach. This will not affect the number of parking spaces or vehicles' ability to navigate the parking lots themselves. Please note that Lot 24, just south of the Market site (west of the dry cleaner's) has plenty of space open to patrons as well.

- Walnut Street Performance Area. On the last Saturday of each month (except October), in conjunction with the Urbana Public Arts Program's "Art at the Market" series, we'll present live acoustic performances from local musicians in the Walnut Street area, just west of the Market site. The talent's been booked, and we'll announce very soon who these artists are. Performers who still wish to busk within the Market site may still do so, as long as they register with the Market first and perform in approved spaces. If you're interested in performing, the application can be found here.

Change is good for the Market, but so is stability - we'll still have most of the excellent vendors you've gotten used to seeing and buying things from, Sprouts at the Market is still going strong (more info about Sprouts coming very soon), the Urbana Free Library will still be out to visit the first weekend of every month, and the Market's incredible good vibes will still abound. It's still the primary place for you, the eater, to meet the person who grew your food (or made your art!). It's important - and fun -  to develop relationships with local producers - we hope you'll join us May 5!