The market, seen in June 2021, draws hundreds to purchase fresh produce, flowers and plants – and to chat with vendors and each other. Credit: Heidi Randhava

Nothing beats an Evanston summer: the lake, the music, the food, and of course, the crème de la crème, the Evanston Farmers’ Market. For 46 years, Evanston residents and tourists alike have relished on sunny Saturday mornings throughout the summer meandering through the maze of tents filled with flowers, fresh fruit, and handmade baked goods. This year, the market features more than 50 vendors, including the always popular Henry’s farms and Evanston staple Bennison’s Bakery.

Evanston residents Ellen Grabow and Betty Levenfeld frequent the market, often leaving with a plethora of fresh produce and cut flowers. Ms. Levenfeld has been a regular for nearly 30 years. 

“The wide variety of produce, the fact that it’s fresh and grown locally [is special],” she said. “I also get a kick out of the various food and fresh fruit vendors.”

Spring vegetables are plentiful at the Saturday market. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

This June, the strawberries are a standout among patrons and vendors alike. However, it is not only the juicy berries and ripe summer vegetables that draw crowds to the intersection of University Place and Oak Ave every Saturday morning. 

“I like the people that come here. … It’s just a nice group of people and they’re very farmer market savvy; they come here all the time,” said Robert Eustace of Marilyn’s Pies.

“I mean, there’s new people, tourists, and all kinds of different things, but most people that come to this market love farmers’ markets, and they don’t get impatient when a vendor is talking to a customer of two years or ten years. It’s a farmers market; that’s what we do here. We build relationships.”

With almost 50 years of existence, the Evanston Farmers’ Market has built a strong, intimate community of regular shoppers and vendors, although it was shaken slightly by the pandemic. 

The downtown Farmers’ Market is perfect for a family outing. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

“There’s a lot of customers that I’ve missed and haven’t seen that are elderly and now are just starting to come back and that’s great to see,” said Karleen Stover of Stover’s Farm Market. 

On June 11, Evanston entered Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois recovery plan that waives the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people at outdoor events, including the Farmers’ Market.

More changes in guidelines emerged for June 18, in which sampling is permitted, customers may choose their own produce if permitted by the vendor, music will return to the market, and the Spud Club for kids will be back for the 4th of July weekend. 

Anyone hankering for a taste of an Evanston summer can visit the Evanston Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Nov. 6. Shopping for seniors and disabled patrons is available from 7 to 7:30 a.m.