The Oak Park Farmers Market began its 46th season on Saturday May 22. The laid-back atmosphere and return to the Pilgrim Church parking lot brought a sense of normalcy back to the Oak Park community.
“We started the day at 4:30 a.m. with a smooth set-up, followed by vendor placement at 6 a.m. that worked like a dream,” said Cameron Davis, the village’s assistant director of development customer services and staff liaison to the farmers market commission.
With vendors in place in the parking lot at Lake and Elmwood, the market opened promptly at 7 a.m. and welcomed 3,239 customers over the six hours the market was open. This represents an 85% increase in attendance over the first market last year. The opening market of 2020, held a week later during the height of the pandemic, was the smallest of the season with 1,750 attendees.
Vendors were well organized with plentiful amounts of asparagus, cheeses, local honey, garden plants and artisan breads available for sale. By closing time Breadman bread sold out and fresh rhubarb had become scarce. While customers are required to travel one-way in a counterclockwise loop, they are free to loop around multiple times while shopping bringing back a more leisurely feel to the 2021 market.
The unmistakable scent of frying donuts lingered in the air. The popular sweet treats were available for purchase inside the market and were also accessible from the alley outside the market. After being sidelined last year, the farmers market band returned to the market. Musicians were positioned on the lawn in front of Pilgrim Church to entertain market goers.
The Oak Park Farmers Market is open every Saturday, rain or shine, in the Pilgrim Church parking lot from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 30. Masks are required.