Oak Park plans to continue its midweek market in the village's downtown, after what officials say was a successful first year.
Back in June, village hall debuted the Oak Park Midweek Market, a food-focused festival held every hump day over the summer. Its first year was something of an experiment, which wrapped up last month. Well, the experiment seemed to work, and pending a final OK by the village board, Oak Park is bringing the festival back in 2011.
"I think it was, overall, very successful," said Loretta Daly, business services manager for the village. "All of the vendors have said they want to come back, and we got only compliments from people who attended."
Village officials had hoped that the weekly market would turn a profit in its first year, but it ended up with revenues of $25,389 against expenses of $38,452, Daly said. However, Oak Park started a fund for the market at the beginning of the summer, with $28,000 in the bank. And if that initial funding is included, it would leave the weekly event at about $15,000 in the black.
Expenses at the market included liquor and a part-time staff position to manage the event, while revenues came from beer and wine sales and booth fees. Daly believes the market will do even better next year, with hopes that it will have built a better name for itself. Also, it hopefully won't have to deal with the frequent storms of the 2010 summer, she added.
Daly emphasized that the return of the midweek market still needs to be decided by the village board. Trustees will discuss the idea in 2011 budget hearings, which started on Monday.
Oak Park plans to keep the midweek market at the same location — at a village parking lot on the south side of Lake Street, just east of Harlem. Daly said they're considering extending the number of weeks that the market is held, while also starting it an hour later, at 5 p.m.
Poor Phil's Bar & Grill was one of the businesses that had a spot at the midweek market, and owner Dennis Murphy thought things went "OK for the first year." He'd like to see more merchants there in 2011, but most of all he'd like to see the festival develop more of an identity.
"Everyone's heard of it, but nobody knew what it was, whereas the farmers' market, you know what that is," he said. "They need a definition; they need a reason to be there. Right now they don't have a definition."
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