Smile Politely

Market Watch: Labor Day Edition

School is back in session in C-U, and that can only mean one thing: the arrival of Labor Day and a three-day holiday weekend. The Market will be open this weekend, so come out and stock up on deliciousness for your holiday weekend fun.  Free-range chicken and beef would be great for your weekend BBQ plans, as well as melon, apples, lettuces, and baked goods.

The apples are starting to be in full season at the market. Last week I saw quite a few varieties, as well as quite a few baked items featuring apples. If your plan is to indulge in a lazy weekend with limited cooking, the market has a lot to offer. The food trucks have a lot of options for eating breakfast/brunch/lunch while you check out the merchandise. Last week a new vendor showed up offering cupcakes and cookies. Sweetie Sweets out of Bondville, IL will be back this weekend in case you missed the bright pink truck. Tried and true favorites Empanada House, Sidney Dairy Barn, and Cracked will also be at the market this weekend offering sweet treats and savory eats.

Due to the heat I’ve been working on no-heat recipes as much as possible, and I am finding that my market picks have been reflecting that quite a bit. I’ve been using lots of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and herbs for cold salads, apples and nut butter for snacks, and fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast. I even made some cold cantaloupe soup, which is delicious with a little mint and some fresh bread (baked somewhere else of course!). If you are working on beating the heat, getting to the market early and being choosey about your produce can really cut down on your cooking time. The one exception to the no-cook rule has been the grill, but since it heats up the already steamy outside and not the house, I’m OK with it.

Don’t forget about all the great non-edible items at the market. If you just moved to town and need a few decorations or an ironic Illinois tee, the market has you covered. Want to learn about the local community and see what Champaign-Urbana has to offer? Don’t miss the community tents in the last row of the market.  

Coming up next week, the market will have a Sprouts at the Market event hosted in conjunction with The Great Pumpkin Patch people from Arthur, IL called “From Dirt to Dessert …And beyond!”. Kids of all ages are invited to visit the Sprouts booth in the northwest corner of the market and learn about pumpkin seeds, Illinois soil, squash, and even sample a pumpkin cookie made from locally grown pumpkins at the patch in Arthur. Participants who complete all the activities at the stations around the market will have the chance to win small prizes, like a one day pass to the pumpkin patch. For more information about this event, click here

Also, next week will be the last blood drive of the market season. If you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, you may want to take advantage of this last event to do so. Community Blood Resources will have their Bloodmobile parked on Walnut Street during the market and all patrons are encouraged to donate if they can. For more information visit the website here.  

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. As a reminder the LINK UP grant that provided matching up to $20 for LINK patrons has run out. Check here for more information. 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. There is a map of the vendors here. 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 excellent photos of the Market. 

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!

Photos from the market’s Facebook page

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