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The outdoor farmers market season kicks off

Downtown Springfield Inc.

A sure sign of spring means the return of outdoor farmers markets. In Springfield, events are planned for the start of a new season.

The Old Capitol Farmers Market, presented by HSHS St. John’s Hospital, returns Wednesday May 17th. The community is invited to the official Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Saturday, May 20th at 9 am, followed by entertainment by the Springfield Youth Performance Group and cake from longtime market vendor Incredibly Delicious.

This summer celebrates the 24th season of the Old Capitol Farmers Market under the management of Downtown Springfield, Inc.

* The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00 am - 12:30 pm on 4th and Adams Streets in Downtown Springfield through the end of October.

The event is downstate Illinois’ largest producer-only farmers market, all products are grown, raised, harvested, or handmade locally by each vendor. This stipulation helps shoppers know where their food is coming from and know they are investing in their local food system.

Accessibility to the local food system is taken a step further through the market’s Link Match program, which is funded by Link Up Illinois to double Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for market customers to spend on fresh, local produce. The Link Match program distributed nearly $48,000 in SNAP funds and matching vouchers throughout the 2022 outdoor season, providing hundreds of people with greater access to fresh, local, healthy foods.

This season introduces many new vendors, including smoothies, stained glass artwork, and many more growers, in addition to returning fan favorite fruit and vegetable farmers, local meat and dairy vendors, bakeries, and coffee providers. Local artisans will return to sell handmade goods including ceramics, jewelry, skin care, and more.

“The Old Capitol Farmers Market has been a mainstay in our community, and we are thrilled to continue our support for this important public health and economic initiative,” said Matt Fry, president and CEO of HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “We love being part of a community-based market where residents of all ages and backgrounds can gather to try new things, learn about healthy foods and support local farmers and artisans. I personally am looking forward to visiting the market with my family and choosing fresh, local products and produce to enjoy in my own kitchen!”

Saturdays at the market feature even more fun, with a Family Fitness Class under the farmers market mural at 9:00 am and Chef Demonstrations by local chefs using local, seasonal produce sourced from the market at 9:30 am.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.downtownspringfield.org/old-capitol-farmers-market or follow the Market on Facebook or Instagram or contact the Farmers Market Manager at (217) 544-1723.

At the state fairgrounds

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Illinois Product Farmers Market will begin with “Opening Day” at the Market, Thursday, May 18 from 3:30 –7 p.m. at “The Shed” on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

* Marketgoers can find The Shed on the Illinois State Fairgrounds by entering the Main Gate and taking a right on Illinois Avenue. Parking is located across the street.

“The 16th Annual Illinois Product Farmers Market is a testament to the invaluable role vendors, farmers, and growers all play feeding and growing our state—and, our fairgrounds continue to set the stage to uplift the driving force that is our Agriculture industry,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This event kicks off yet another season of opportunities for our state's communities to come together and celebrate the bounty that Illinois produces.”

“We could not think of a better way to open the 16th annual Illinois Product Farmers Market than highlighting all the great things we have going on at the fairgrounds,” said Jerry Costello II, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “From the largest summer event in the state to promoting the state’s number one industry by selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and Illinois products weekly, the Illinois State Fairgrounds is the place to be.”

Marketgoers will enjoy a taste of the fair with lemon shake-ups and Cozy Dogs, mini doughnuts, hot and cold coffee, lotus drinks, and ribeye sandwiches from JB’s Coffee, kettle corn, cotton candy, and snow cones, brats, and hot dogs.

IDOA is bringing free events to the Illinois Product Farmers Market, featuring: Touch-A-Truck, free balloon animals, bandana tie-dying, market play, Springfield Lucky Horseshoes inflatable batting tee, Springfield Park District’s yard games, Illinois State Museum science and history exhibit, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum giveaways, YMCA kids’ activities, and live music from Robert Sampson.

All marketgoers will walk away winners with a free Illinois Product reusable bag. The Illinois State Fair prize wheel offers a chance to win free admission and parking to the Illinois State Fair, a bottle of Illinois wine, concert tickets, Illinois Product Farmers Market Cash or an Illinois Product Basket, full of items from the farmers market vendors.

IDOA will match every $25 spent in Link at the Illinois Product Farmers Market. If marketgoers spend $25 in LINK, they will receive an additional $25 in LINK Match to spend on fruits and vegetables.

Marketgoers can also purchase Mega or Jumbo Passes at a discounted rate on May 18th at the Illinois Product Farmers Market.

The 2023 Illinois Product Farmers Market is sponsored by the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, AARP Illinois, Lincoln Land Community College, ES Meats, and Springfield Clinic. Back again this year are drawings for $10 in “Market Cash” and chances to win an AARP Illinois Product basket each week.

The Illinois Product Farmers Market will be held every Thursday starting May 18 through September 28 excluding the two Thursdays during the Illinois State Fair. The Illinois Product Fall Market will be held October 14.

All products sold at the Illinois Product Farmers Market are processed, produced, or packaged in the state of Illinois. Space is still available if you are interested in participating as a vendor at the 2023 market. For applications, please contact agr.farmersmarket@illinois.gov. Follow Illinois Products on Facebook and Instagram and visit www.illinoisproductfarmersmarket.com for more information and up to date market information.

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