The last Hyde Park Farmers Market of 2019 was overshadowed by a rare Chicago Halloween snow shower. The 2020 markets were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But in 2021, the markets are back, taking place behind the Hyde Park Bank Building instead of in Harper Court, with the first held on a sunny Sunday, June 13, and attended by hundreds.
The Farmers Market's new manager, Ticina Williams, graduated from Kenwood Academy, lives in Washington Park and runs Creativiti Custom Designs and Events, 6127 S. University Ave.
"I'm really familiar with Hyde Park and 53rd Street, and so I'm stoked to be back among the people and in my community, because that's something that's really important to me: community work," Williams said. Her portfolio includes handling vendor relationships, set-up and break-down, managing crowd flow and general logistics, and she will continue running Creativiti while heading the Farmers Market.
As it stands at the opening, the Farmers Market has two farm stands, from Six Generations Farm in northwest suburban Barrington and Lyons Fruit Farm in Fennville, Michigan. Williams said there is room for one more. Additional goals include recruiting more pop-up vendors (especially food and artisan good sellers) and spreading more knowledge locally about the change in venue.
Hundreds attended the first-of-the-season market on Sunday. "A lot of vendors were very pleased with the turnout," Williams said, adding that they prefer the Bank Building lot, 1525 E. 53rd St., to Harper Court, due to its visibility and Sunday instead of the previous Thursday, when the market used to be held.
All vendor stalls are booked through the end of June, but Williams said she would like to add more in July. Applications are being considered on a rolling basis.
Due to city guidelines with cooking, vendors that cook on-site are not currently licensed for the Farmers License. Williams said she is waiting for an official announcement as to when they will be allowed to come back.
Because the Farmers Market was not held last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped accepting payment through Illinois Link cards. Williams said the application process for this season has started but that there is a backlog.
"We're waiting for USDA approval," she said. "As soon as we get USDA approval, we will begin to formulate exactly how the Link program will work and if we will have any kind of matching going forward. We're working hard to get the Link so that we can provide access."
In sum, Williams is looking forward to the season before her, due to run until Sept. 26, skipping only Sunday, July 4.
"We're excited to continue to have the market grow and continue to thrive for the years to come," she said. "Hopefully I'll be in this role for additional years."