The Old Capitol Farmer’s Market celebrated its 19th season as a DSI program in 2018, with record breaking attendance and sales. From mid-May through October, each Wednesday & Saturday morning, the market is held on Adams Street and 4th. It boasts a total of 70 different vendors throughout the season, selling a wide variety of locally-grown and hand-crafted products, contributing to the economic, environmental and social well-being of downtown as well as the entire Springfield community.
This past summer season was the third year that DSI has partnered with Illinois Stewardship Alliance to manage the day-to-day market operations, and Springfield Area Arts Council to program the music. We are also indebted to our premier sponsor, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, plus supporting partners which include Central Baptist Church, The Dinges Family, Chef Michael Higgins, Springfield Youth Performance Group, Midwest Family, the Kidzeum, SpringfieldMoms.org and many more entities and individuals.
“The Market is a celebration of everything that is Springfield, and the partners are really proud of it,” says Market Manager Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant. “Shoppers can find everything from green zebra-striped heirloom tomatoes specially bred to thrive in this region, to homemade blueberry donuts made by local bakers using blueberries grown in the Springfield area. But the market is so much more than a great place to shop; it’s also a great investment in the community.”
2018 Season by the numbers:
- NEW record: 65,856 total adult and child visitors (10% increase!)
- NEW record: $23,377 spent by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers to increase their healthy food intake (43% increase!)
- NEW record: $11,839 Credit/Debit transactions at the Market Booth (13% increase!)
- 60 Local & Family-Owned Businesses
- your Farmers Market food traveled 38.9 miles to get to you
- 30% Women-Owned Businesses
- 1733 lbs of fresh produce donated
The economic impact on Springfield is easy to see. According to the National Farmers Market Coalition, sales at locally owned businesses infuse three times more back into the local economy than chain retailers.
Download the visual 2018 OCFM Impact Report.
All Incomes Being Able to Buy
This year, the Market was able to match $10,932 of the SNAP sales thanks to Link-Up Illinois Grant offered by Experimental Station, for a total of $23,377 dollars that went directly back into the pockets of local farms and businesses. The SNAP Match program ensures that families of all income levels across Springfield have access to fresh, wholesome food and that SNAP dollars stay local. This year a new partnership with the
Junior League of Springfield helped increase the capacity for staffing, program planning, and data collection for the SNAP program.
Thanks to a new program in partnership with GenHKids, during 10 Market dates from July 25th – Oct. 3rd, farmers were able to provide 1,733 pounds of fresh produce for low-income families throughout Springfield, furthering the Market as a driver of social good.
Economic Spillover for Downtown Revitalization
The #AdamsFamily continues to grow, thanks to the foot traffic created by the Farmers Market and the ability for entrepreneurs to test out their products and grow a fan base. Two 2017 vendors made the move to new brick-and-mortar homes on Adams Street in 2018: Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. and the Itty Bitty Fashion Truck. Custom Cup Coffee also celebrated its final season selling at the Market, having started as a vendor several years ago and now running a thriving brick-and-mortar location on Monroe.
More Fresh Than Anywhere
Environmentally, farmers and food vendors at the Market travel 38.9 miles one way to bring their products to market, a carbon footprint that is significantly less than that of food on grocery shelves, which travels an average of 1200 miles. Market staff inspect new farm vendors to verify that all products are grown by the farmers and not purchased from wholesale auctions or out-of-state, ensuring that all dollars stay local and truly support area family farms. We work hard so that you can trust that our market is truly “local” and “fresh.”
The Market remains one of the most popular attractions in downtown. This year, the Market received three accolades: Best Fresh Produce and Best Weekend Activity by the State Journal-Register, and Best Free Entertainment by Illinois Times. According to visitor counts recorded in 2018, 65,856 total adult and children visited the market (an average of 2,634 each Saturday) with a record-shattering 7,299 patrons on opening day, Saturday, May 19.
Chef demonstrations, educational displays by partners, and family fitness programs make the Market more than just a place to shop. St. John’s Hospital offered free health screenings, and a number of community groups offered services, such as free books from the Land of Lincoln Book Share, meditation with the Student Yoga and Mindfulness Project, and a weekly Local Business tent we added as another form of community collaboration.
We also would like to thank the City of Springfield Office of Public Works for helping ensure the safety of the streets where the Market comes alive every single week and the Convention & Visitors Bureau for promoting it to our city’s visitors.
What’s Next for the Market?
Fortunately for Springfield, the final Holiday Market takes place at the State House Inn at 2nd and Adams on December 22, and a Winter Market will take place there once a month from January – April. For a full schedule, see our calendar of events.
Next year we’ll celebrate our 20th year! Contact us if you want to be involved as a sponsor or a community group.