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There’s a lot to take in at Downtown Evanston’s Thursday Night Markets.

An impressive variety of local artists, makers and retail shops brought a steady flow of residents and visitors from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at Fountain Square’s community plaza south of Davis Street. They stayed to dance to music by DJ Johnny Price, drink craft beer from Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. and enjoy the warm summer evening.

In addition to boosting the vitality and economic well-being of downtown Evanston, Thursday Night Markets highlight public spaces and local culture and foster social connections.

(But if you missed the August market, you still have another chance to make it to the final Thursday Night Market of the season, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Fountain Square.)

Dancers move to the music of DJ Johnny Price at the Aug. 4 Thursday Night Market at Fountain Square. Credit: Heidi Randhava

For some, the market was a family night out. For many, it was a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. For others, it was an opportunity to showcase their talents or raise needed funds for worthy causes.

Olga Shafran was at the booth for Ukraine TrustChain. She was among a group of people who launched the Evanston nonprofit in order to fund volunteer teams in Ukraine. The organization ensures that urgent deliveries of vital products get to people who must stay in war zones, while also evacuating children and seniors from those sites.

The team from the nonprofit Ukraine TrustChain attends Downtown Evanston’s Thursday Night Market on Aug. 4. Credit: Heidi Randhava

“We are giving original art to those who make donations today,” Shafran said. “Some of it is created by local artists in Ukraine. We fund eight different teams of volunteers in Ukraine. We started by sending them donations of our own money, and then we started fundraising.”

Ukraine TrustChain founder Daniil Cherkasskiy said the group started the nonprofit about three days after the war in Ukraine began.

“The first days are fuzzy, but the war started on a Thursday, and on Sunday or Monday, we sent our first dollars [to volunteers in Ukraine]. … We got 501(c)3 status in May [2022]. …. We are doing this event to stay involved with the community. That’s more important than the amount of money we will collect today.

“With the money we raised, we funded teams that evacuated 39,000 from the front lines. … And they operate a large food security operation,” Cherkasskiy said.

Ashley Lopez (left) and Naomi Lopez monitor their booth with the help of their youngest family member. Credit: Heidi Randhava

Market attendees Leolin Bowen and Andres Lopez visited the booth of their friend Iden Nowlin of IRBN Creations.

“I started painting for fun when I was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago. I was on leave from work, so this was my outlet – my way of keeping my brain and my body and my hands busy. So, this is what I do,” said Nowlin, pointing to her colorful, vibrant paintings.

Market attendees Andres Lopez (left) and Leolin Bowen (center) visit the booth of their friend Iden Nowlin of IRBN Creations. Credit: Heidi Randhava

Chorine Alston was walking down the street in downtown Evanston “and I saw there was a lot happening, so I had to come and check it out. There are a lot of cute things here,” she said.

While at the Market, Alston ran into an old friend, John Benson, who was at the Market with his wife, Shelley.

“I saw Chorine for the first time in 25 years,” said Benson, during a brief break in their laughter and conversation.

From left: John and Shelley Benson reconnect with Chorine Alston at the Thursday Night Market on Aug. 4. Credit: Heidi Randhava

The opportunity to increase social bonds – along with the colorful array of artisanal and small batch packaged goods, original art, decorative items, toys, books, clothing and jewelry – have made the monthly Thursday Night Markets a big hit this summer.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.

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  1. It’s always a pleasure spinning the tunes at the Thursday Night Market in Downtown Evanston. Being an Evanston native, I often get a chance to reconnect with old friends whom I’ve gone to high school with. It’s always a fun experience.