Smile Politely

Market Watch: October 2015

Pumpkin madness has arrived all over east central Illinois. The pumpkin farms are open, #psl is trending on Twitter, and the market has a great stock of the pumpkins of all sizes. Regardless of your or my personal feelings about pumpkin spice everything, fall has definitely arrived in C-U. This time of year, attendance tends to slow at the market. The weather is colder, events have wound down, and people are less likely to want to get out of bed to head over. But, if you can manage to make it out to the market there are some great benefits to the end of the market, too. Pumpkins, apples, and root vegetables are all in great supply and now is the time to stock up local, grass fed meats and local wine to make it through the winter.  Winter in C-U is no joke, so don’t miss out on your chance to be prepared with a full pantry.

The weather the next few weekends will be turning colder, so it’s a great time to check out root vegetables for soups and roasting. I am a fan of chopping up root veggies, adding a little olive oil and roasting them in the oven on a sheet pan at 425° until delicious. You can choose all your favorite root veggies and mix them all together or stick with a single veggie if you like. Also, kale and lettuce tend to do really well this time of year, so there are usually lots of vendors with a good supply of those. While it seems like the season is winding down this is actually one of the best times at the market to find a lot of produce variety. Some warmer weather crops are still producing, and the cooler weather ones are starting to come in, so there is a lot available this time of year.

The arts and crafts at the market are excellent this time of year, too. I always look for the upcycled wool and knit items, as well as toys, hand made journals and jewelry. As you switch out your summer wardrobe for the warmer stuff, it can be nice to update with a few local handmade items. I usually treat myself to a new pair of hand-knitted mittens each year, mostly because I usually lose one, but you can’t beat them for mornings when the temp is close to 0° and the dog needs to go for a walk. So, if you haven’t had a chance yet this season, check out the arts and crafts vendors and see what treasures you can find.

This is the last post of the Market at the Square season from Market Watch, so I want to say thanks to the market staff, and all the vendors for a great season this year. The absolute best thing about the market is the people who make it happen, and who grow the food or create the items that make the market run. Every single Saturday my daughters, husband, and I get a chocolate croissant from Pekara. The women who work the table are always friendly and now my oldest daughter looks forward to seeing them and saying hi (and the youngest one is setting records for eating croissants in the 1 year old division). At the end of the day, markets are about creating community: by buying local, supporting the local economy,  and meeting the people who make or grow your food. If you get a chance, say thanks to your favorite vendor before the market season ends. Oh, and the chocolate croissants at Pekara are definitely awesome!

Finally, while the Market at the Square season is winding down, never fear — the marketing will continue with Middle Market and the Holiday Market. Stay tuned to Market Watch for details about both!

C- U at the market!

Market information:

Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors havecard readers on their smart phones, but not all.  See information about LINK,  SNAP,  and WIC guidelines here. If you run out of cash, there is an ATM in 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. 

Pets: Pets are not allowed at the market, but you can get some yummy treats to share with your pet when you return home. Seriously people, leave your pets at home.

Information: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. And check out gorgeous photos of the Market on Instagram.

The Market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 7th. All events are scheduled rain or shine.

All photos by Jessica Hammie.

Related Articles