Music Series Fostered Community Pride and Spurred Positive Conversation about the Y Block

Not surprisingly, the number one reason that attendees to this summer’s Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC Bank would return to the south side of the Y Block was for a permanent bandshell or concert venue.

More than 7,700 people attended the ten-week, free music series held on the vacant lot adjacent to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion hosted by organizers Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield Inc and Springfield Area Arts Council. The two goals for the local organizers, which won them a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation, were to bring Springfield’s diverse neighborhoods together in one central location, and to bring the public into the discussion about the future of the Y Block.

Local partners jumped on board, with PNC Bank leading the way as premier sponsor of the series. Other top sponsors included Isringhausen Imports, Illinois REALTORS, US Bank, LRS and the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. Top in-kind sponsors included all three radio groups coming together under the Radio Matters banner, Springfield Park District, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Star Graphics, Republic Services, and the City of Springfield, who made physical improvements to the space so that people could bring blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts and provided waste and police services.

Nearly five hundred attendees took the time to fill out a survey about their desires for the future of the block and their downtown habits. The next three most popular responses for “reasons why you would return regularly” were, in order, food truck park, gardens, and/or a dog park.

Download the Levitt Music Series Attendee Count & Survey Analysis

The goal to provide an inclusive, safe place for all members of the community to come together was accomplished. This year’s attendees generally mirrored the demographics of the City of Springfield, according to the US Census. To personally invite African American families to the series, we partnered with UAct, a local non-profit, who made a total of 117 contacts with people in 59 east side entities. The Latino attendance was actually a higher percentage than Springfield’s Latino population, thanks to outreach by Salsa Ambassador Julio Barrenzuela. The Asian population was somewhat underrepresented.

Photo Credit: Brian Bowles

The family-friendly atmosphere was evident. Nearly 60 percent of surveyed attendees came with their family. Forty-seven percent came with friends. More than a quarter of surveyed attendees brought at least one child with them to the concerts. And tellingly, eight percent of those surveyed came by themselves, which indicates the venue felt safe and welcoming.

Regarding the future of the block, the City Council recently passed an ordinance which supports placing a downtown campus of UIS and SIU on or near the Y Block.

Springfield intends to submit a renewal application for a 2020 Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, which is due September 20. Follow Levitt AMP Springfield to stay up to date.

Downtown Springfield Inc has a policy position on the future of the Y Block. Read it here: North Mansion Block Updated 2019 Policy

Got an Idea? We’ve Got Momentum On Main Street

DSI is a Main Street organization, which means it organizes it activities around four pillars of revitalization: Design, Promotions, Organization and Economic Vitality.

Today’s Downtown Springfield knows that growth will only happen by undertaking economic development activities that fill the smaller vacant properties and build new foot traffic, activities that have also attracted a new generation of volunteers to work alongside DSI staff to #GSD.  

Momentum on Main Street is an initiative that grew out of DSI’s Economic Vitality committee earlier this year to help educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors and property developers.

“We really aimed to highlight and build off the positives that are already happening downtown,” said David Lee, a medical salesperson and downtown revitalization advocate who chairs the Momentum committee. “We’ve quickly gotten a lot of interest; it obviously was a message people could get behind. We’re hoping the workshops, conversations, and connections that are happening will give people the tools, and confidence, to do their project or business that they’ve been dreaming about.”

The Momentum on Main Street launch event was held March 21 at Arlington’s. More than 100 people attended to hear from current business owners about their experiences setting up shop in the downtown district and to network. All of the attendees to this free event, sponsored by the City of Springfield and US Bank, were invited to apply for scholarships either to take their business concept to the next level, or to attend an Incremental Development Alliance workshop to learn how to take on a property redevelopment without using subsidies.

CO.STARTERS SCHOLARSHIPS

Attendees at the kick-off event had the opportunity to apply for a Co.Starters scholarship, sponsored by US Bank. Co.Starters is a national nine-week program that began in Chattanooga, TN to help communities “build vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems by equipping them with the best tools and resources needed.” Co.Starters in Springfield is hosted by Innovate Springfield, UIS’ business incubator located in the heart of downtown.

Then in June, Innovate Springfield hosted their first Co.Starters Pitch Event to hear from the ten participants in the first cohort. Five of the Co.Starters cohort members received the US Bank scholarships as part of the Momentum on Main Street program:

  • Sarah Stahly – Sweet Scoops
  • Patrick Russell – Curtain & Leaf
  • Dayton Burntett – Trans4orm
  • Liz Hiller – Thirsty’s Taproom
  • Thomas Phinney –  Cafe on the Rocks

Three of the Momentum “scholars” are looking to create new brick-and-mortar experiences. Sarah Stahly began her business Sweet Scoops by looking to put a unique spin on ice cream. Her ice cream choices include non-dairy and vegan. She uses substitutes like coconut milk and almond milk to make delicious flavor combinations such as Strawberry Banana & Ruby Basil or Chocolate Peanut Butter Fried Banana.

Liz Hiller had the idea for Thirsty’s Taproom, a crossroads for everything craft beer, after living in places like Chicago and North Carolina and experiencing their craft beer scene. Lately, Central Illinois has caught the craft beer bug and the movement has centered in downtown with spots like Obed & Isaac’s, Buzz Bomb Brewing Co., and Anvil & Forge Brewing. Thirsty’s Taproom would serve as a spot for patrons to try all of their favorite craft beers in one location. Thirsty’s Taproom would be a family friendly atmosphere with an emphasis on enjoying great beer and community.

Thomas Phinney, an avid rock climbing expert, and his wife Ruth plan to open an indoor “bouldering cafe” in downtown. On The Rocks Bouldering would help increase Springfield’s knowledge of bouldering, which is rock climbing without the assistance of a harness. Ultimately the business would lead regular bouldering tours in the western U.S. 

DSI’s Momentum on Main Street will be providing five more scholarships for the next Co.Starters cohort in September. If you have a great new business idea and are ready to do the work to make it a reality, fill out the application now.

FREE FOLLOW UP SESSIONS

Since the launch event, DSI has held one-hour informational sessions on a variety of related subjects, with the goal of hosting six related topics during 2019. The first covered how to start your business by selling at the Farmers Market. The second was hosted at the Lincoln Public Library and featured a panel of city staff demystifying the process of permits and licensing. 

The third Momentum on Main Street event was an interactive walking tour led by architect and owner of Square Root Architecture + Design, Jeff Sommers, to help participants discern what is needed when one buys a downtown building. He was joined by a banker and two realtors. Mark Nelson and Ed Mahoney are with Re/Max professionals. Ed has worked as a realtor in Springfield for over 30 years and was on the founding board for DSI. 

The next Momentum free session is on July 30th at Anvil and Forge Brewing. The session will be led by Lauren Silkowski of US Bank and Lashonda Fitch of Justine Petersen and will provide attendees with ideas for how to achieve financing for a business start-up. More details to follow.

 

Plants Native to Illinois Help Beautify Downtown

(not in order pictured) Volunteers Grace Norris, Susan Helm, Patty Morton, Erin Svendsen, Michael Higgins and Kathy Wright

A group of volunteers spent a recent Wednesday morning helping to beautify downtown with plants native to Illinois.

The idea bubbled up from members of DSI’s Design Committee, who worked with master gardener Susan Helm to develop a plan and find grant funding to conduct a pilot program in downtown’s planters.

A key member of the group is Michael Higgins, who recently won a Sustainable Springfield award for the work he’s done to utilize his Maldaner’s Restaurant rooftop to achieve sustainable goals, including installing solar panels, a beehive and a native plant container to support native pollinators. Energy use at the restaurant has been reduced by 20% over the past five years. Take-out containers are provided in compostable containers and most recently plastic straws were replaced with paper straws, the first downtown business to make the switch.

For the downtown planters project, Higgins, Helm and Erin Svendsen of SAA collaborated with the Illinois Native Plant Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the City of Springfield to develop their plan. They successfully won a grant from the Springfield Civic Garden Club, which donated proceeds its Annual Plant Sale to garden-related projects for a charitable organization.

The newly-planted planters will beautify the downtown area but also serve two other important functions: saving the City of Springfield money by utilizing perennials and attracting pollinators, which are an important part of the ecosystem and have been diminishing. The different species of plants used range from flowers like Coneflower and Poppy Mallow to plants like White Sage and Prairie Dropseed. Along with these plants native to Illinois, the downtown planters project added herbs for texture and pollinator value.

Each pot is essentially an entire pollinator garden. You can find them on both sides of 6th Street from Monroe to Adams Street. They are also on Adams Street between 6th and 7th Streets. Depending on the success of this first pilot project, look for an expansion to other planters in the downtown area in the coming years.

An Art Deco Gem

In honor of our first Architectural Walking Tour of the season, which takes place on Wednesday, May 1, Cinda Ackerman Klickna contributed this blog post about the 88-year-old building which houses the organization that she led for six years as President.

The Illinois Education Association building at 100 E. Edwards is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in downtown Springfield. Built in 1931 by Rockford architects Horn and Sandburg, it houses the offices of the largest union in Illinois. The IEA, with a current membership of 133,000, includes teachers and support staff, Pre-K through higher ed, plus retired members and students studying to become teachers.

IEA has a long history, starting as the Illinois State Teachers’ Institute in 1853. A constitution was written with the preamble explaining why the association was needed: “…believing that the organization of a State Teachers’ Institute is not only essential to raise the standard of teaching but conducive to the promotion of the of the greatest diffusion of knowledge throughout our
State.”

Membership grew over the years after many conventions with as many as 5000 teachers attending and with support of the legislature. In 1857, by an act of the Illinois Legislature, the name was changed to the Illinois State Teachers’ Association. The Association had by then helped to establish the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a regular full-time elected office (today the position is appointed by the Governor). In 1857, the Association helped establish Illinois State Normal University. It wasn’t until 1936 that the name became what it is today, the Illinois Education Association, because membership grew to include more than teachers.

By the 1920s, a small office served the membership; in 1925, the delegates to the annual meeting called the Representative approved money for the purchase of land and construction of a building in Springfield. A location with close proximity to the State Capitol was important so that legislative work could be continued.

Two lots on Edwards Street were purchased for $15,000. A two-story building was completed in 1931, named the William Bishop Owen Building in honor of the association’s former president who had worked to establish a permanent headquarters. The building cost $45,300.

The architects, Horn and Sandburg, designed a box-shaped structure using Indiana limestone. The facade has never changed. Four fluted carved columns rise two stories and are capped with a sunrise and geometric design. The sunrise and geometric pattern is repeated above the entrance.

Expansion occurred in 1953; the Centennial Addition was so named in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Association. The two-story addition on the back end, costing $134,000, added much needed space for offices and meetings. And in 1960, another addition, creating a “T,” was added to the back.  The ell wing, extending to the east, was added in the 1980’s.

Although the interior has been modernized with new windows, lighting, and air systems throughout the years, some parts of the original building can still be seen. Stairwells with wood railings, woodwork around glass panels, heavy doors, old radiators and grill vents add charm to the building.

IEA, a non-profit member of Downtown Springfield Inc., continues its original mission: to improve the quality of teaching by raising issues, working on legislation that helps students and raising the awareness of the needs of students and educators for successful public schools in every community.

Three Questions for the Candidates

Election season is almost over, and before you roll your eyes, consider how important it is that we elect people from every ward who understand the value of a revitalized downtown. The City of Springfield is DSI’s primary partner in the work that we do, and the work that we do benefits the entire city, any which way you look at it: whether tax base, corporate and medical recruitment,  making our young people want to come home, building out an entrepreneurial culture.

So first, we thanked the men and women who are running to make a difference in Springfield. It takes a lot of personal time, patience, caring and perseverance to run for elected office.

Then — we asked them three questions. The topics were:
1) future of the Y Block,
2) TIF Policy and
3) partnership with DSI.

Read the candidates’ responses here.

Voting ends at 7 pm on Tuesday, April 2. If you haven’t cast your ballot yet, the County Clerk’s office in the Sangamon County Courthouse on 9th Street is open all weekend for early voting. Download the hours here.

Era of Exploration for First Presbyterian Church

A church with historic significance, a grant opportunity, and a group that could help figure out a better way to use 36,000 of underutilized square feet: the First Presbyterian Church at 7th and Capitol, known for its red front door, started off this year with a soul-searching process that could greatly benefit not only the downtown community but all of Springfield.

Flashback nine months ago: Pastor Susan Phillips was only into her new post for a few months and asking normal-new-job questions such as, “Why do we do this? What if we did that?”  Sarah Watson, a parishioner who is the Executive Director of Looking for Lincoln/ A. Lincoln National Heritage Area, read of a grant opportunity through National Heritage that was available for religious groups. The grant could bring in Partners for Sacred Places, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the preservation and use of historic, religious sites. Phillips and Watson had a conversation.

Pastor Phillips leads a tour of the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Phillips says, “Members of the congregation were discussing our future – do we stay downtown and do some renovation, or move to another site? Our church is rooted in history; we cherish our tradition of social justice and have been an incubator of programs. We wanted, though, to look at how we could serve the community in new ways.”

Along with another parishioner, Mary Beth Stephens, the three realized the church was a “hidden gem in downtown,” as Stephens says.

They won the grant, which paid for Sacred Places to lead a community development process that helps identify assets, not only in the church but also in the surrounding community, called Asset Mapping.

Community leaders with a wide range of interests and positions were invited to attend a three-hour Convening session on January 19. The invitees were promised that the session wasn’t a fundraising pitch, but that they needed to bring their “energy and imagination,” Stephens says. “The program was meant to be a jumping off point for the congregation to reach back out to the community, like we used to do.”

The exterior of the oldest part of the church is shored up with beams.

The day of the Convening turned out to be one with inclement weather, but over 40 people showed up anyway. Watson says, “I was thrilled that the group showed up on a snowy, Saturday morning, all with an interest in Springfield and downtown.” The participants toured the church, many amazed at the large number of nooks and crannies–and potential. They then broke into groups to identify strengths and resources and list assets of the community, the church, and the neighborhood.

Phillips, Watson, and Stephens all share that the meeting led to wonderful discussion. People developed potential ideas how the church’s space could be used to address community needs and even started to collaborate on ideas beyond what might happen at the church itself. For example, the fact that the church’s sanctuary is 150 years old and the Lincoln family pew is on display in the lobby made attendees say that the church should include more about the Lincoln connection in Springfield tourism. (Fun fact: Only Eagle Scouts may sit on the pew.)

Ideas for space included renting out rooms for meetings, a hang-out for legislators,  space for artists-in-residence, tapping into the Homeless Outreach Team, offering counseling for homeless, and providing trainings or classes. “Whatever is decided,” Phillips says, “these activities need to help us partner in broader, deeper ways to better serve people and the community.”

To be fully utilized, the church needs renovation. There are many sections that are inaccessible and not up to ADA code. But, there are many rooms. Water availability in many rooms would make it possible to host art classes. There are offices and a library, a commons area connected to a kitchen and a kitchenette, a lounge, computer lab, even a movie theater room. Sacred Places will ultimately help the congregation figure out how the space could be upgraded and re-purposed for today’s community needs.

The next step is to present the asset mapping ideas and discussion to the congregation, receive input, review, reflect and then decide which direction(s) to take. Phillips calls this in-between period, “Rooted and Reaching.” By the end of the Sacred Places process, the congregation will have determined how to, once again, use its beautiful, historic home base to its fullest potential, reaching out to the community and partnering with other organizations.

Stephens adds, “We know it will take time, and we don’t want to lose momentum. This is a wonderful thing we’ve started.”

Cinda Ackerman Klickna is sharing her talents with the downtown community by contributing interesting stories to our blog. First Presbyterian Church is a non-profit member of DSI.

Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

On, January 23rd, Downtown Springfield, Inc hosted their 26th Annual Awards Dinner highlighting the people and places that make downtown the hub for culture in Springfield. One very special award went to Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records for his tireless work in our community. Here is the speech the Past DSI Director, Victoria Ringer gave while announcing her dear friend as the recipient of the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award:

I am Honored to be presenting the Wally Henderson LifeTime Achievement Award
this evening. Wally and his wife Brynn came to mean a lot to me and my husband
Doug. Our recipient and his wife have also be like Wally, this man has made his
mark on downtown by saying exactly what he thinks, working harder than the
average guy, giving back to his community and pulling no punches. 

In fact, as did Wally, our recipient would often call the DSI office and give his
opinion, often with volume and passion, on an issue affecting downtown. He would
always end the conversation with “you know I love ya, right”. Yep, I did.
When it comes to historical knowledge, business savvy, and the ability to
communicate I always knew where to send the media when they were looking for a
good interview or story. Running a family business that has been in the same
location for over 100 years takes stamina, the ability to acclimate to good and bad
economic situations, and character.

What once began as a downtown furniture store has evolved into a national
destination for collectors, famous musicians and people wanting to have a real
experience when shopping for jewelry, vintage items and, of course, music. You will
find an experienced staff, unusual displays and one constant overseeing the entire
menagerie.

Not unlike a fine vinyl record, this man has unique grooves, a crisp voice and the
ability to make a difference in the way you feel just by having a listen.
It is my great pleasure to present the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award
to Mark Kessler, of Recycled Records.

 

Other winners of the night included:

Best Retail: The Roost

Best Restaurant: VELE

Best Not for Profit Initiative:  Lincoln Library and Director Will O’Hearn

2018 Most Impactful Public-Private Partnership: Kidzeum of Health and Science and the City of Springfield

Green Leadership: Kevin Greene

Best Renovation: St. George Apartments – Josh Wagoner

Best Creative Promotion: Hashtag Adams Family developed by Mark Forinash, Cafe Moxo

Best 2018 Event: Old Capitol Blues and BBQ Festival

Best Nightlife: Buzz Bomb Brewery

Bicentennial Award: Illinois Governor Mansions Association & Illinois REALTORS

Downtown Advocate of the Year: Linda Renehan

Volunteer of the Year: Brenda Stroh

 

To read more about the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award, see the article posted in the SJ-R

Congrats to Our “Best Of” 2018 Nominees

Our 2017 Best Restaurant, Long Nine Junction, has a big 2019 in store — with their first child on the way in March, and the recent announcement of their Top 20 ranking among all restaurants in the US by Yelp.

Each year, Downtown Springfield Inc., the downtown business association and neighborhood revitalization champion comes together as a community for the organization’s Annual Dinner, which takes place on Wed., January 23, 2019 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel a Doubletree by Hilton. Thanks to the Doubletree and our Co-Host sponsors, AT&T and Watts Copy Systems.

Although tickets are no longer available, fans of downtown can still support DSI’s revitalization work by bidding on our Silent Auction, which is available online. You’ll get minute-by-minute updates on the status of the items you want to bid on by going to https://dsiawards.givesmart.com. Thanks to the Illinois REALTORS for sponsoring our Silent Auction system this year!

The highlight of the Dinner is the Annual “Best Of” Awards presented to the people and businesses who were the most buzzworthy in the prior year. The public nominated every category, and then the nominations were all vetted by a DSI committee consisting of current members and Past Presidents of the organization.

DSI does not release names of nominees of the Wally Henderson Lifetime Achievement Award, the DSI Volunteer of the Year Award, or the Downtown Advocate Award. This year, DSI will present a special Bicentennial Award as well.

DSI is proud to announce the following 2018 nominees:

Best Retail
The Roost
Studio on 6th
Wild Rose

Best Restaurant
VELE
Maldaner’s
Long Nine Junction

Best Night Life
Buzz Bomb Brewery
Floyd’s Thirst Parlor
Hoogland Center for the Arts

Best Event
Old Capitol Blues & BBQ
Springfield Jaycees Xmas Parade
Legacy of Giving Music Festival

Best Creative Promotion
#AdamsFamily by Mark Forinash, Cafe Moxo
Dumb Records’ Record of the Night/Moving
Obed & Isaac’s Bus Wine Tour

Green Leadership
Maldaner’s/Michael Higgins
Kevin Greene, Springfield Bicycle Advisory Council
Wind Solar USA

Best Overall Renovation
St. George Apartments – Josh Wagoner
Anvil & Forge
Willow & Birch

Impactful Public/Private Partnership
Innovate Springfield/ University of Illinois Springfield
Obed & Isaac’s/Fire Dept/MMC Burn Unit Station – One Porter event
Kidzeum/City of Springfield

Best Not-For-Profit Initiative
Gift of Hope’s Banner Campaign
Lincoln Library’s Homeless Outreach
PCASA’s Dare to be Different Fashion Show

Thanks for Your Votes! Downtown Springfield is a 2019 Levitt AMP Concert Site

The Y Block in Downtown Springfield will be the site of 10 free music concerts in summer 2019 thanks to the announcement that Springfield will receive a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation.

Downtown Springfield was chosen as a recipient after a nationwide vote with 41 communities vying for the music matching grant. Thanks, Springfield, for your votes!

The Levitt AMP [Your City] grant program has several criteria:
1) to activate an underutilized space;
2) to provide a variety of music and performers;
3) and to bring a community together through music.

The application was submitted by Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield, Inc. and Springfield Area Arts Council with a support letter from the City of Springfield.

Are you in a band or know of a band that you’d like to see play on the Y Block next summer? Email us at levittamp@downtownspringfield.org.

We will launch an RFP process to find organizations who want to partner with us to program an evening, as well as bands, in January or February.

We expect to announce the lineup by April 1, 2019.

Concerts will be held on Thursday evenings from May 30 – August 1.

We’re also looking for corporate and family sponsors to help us match the grant! Contact us to find out the benefits of sponsoring free music for our community.

2018 Record Breaking Season for Old Capitol Farmer’s Market

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.

Downtown restaurants shop weekly at the Farmers Market.

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.”

Award-Winning

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.

 

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