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.

 

Jaycees Capitol City Celebration and Fireworks

S 2nd St & E Capitol Avenue (Infront of the Capitol Building)

Celebrate Independence Day with the Springfield Jaycees at our annual Capital City Celebration in front of the Capitol Building. Fireworks are scheduled for 9:30 pm (weather dependent).

The Capital City Celebration is free to the public and tickets are not required. However, we’d love your support for our local vendors and the Springfield Jaycees by purchasing food and drinks. This event is funded by those sales and generous sponsors.

On-street parking is available as are the various parking garages in downtown Springfield. We encourage you to arrive early. Please do not park in a lot that requires a permit. The Springfield Jaycees is not responsible for towed cars. Also, please take care when driving downtown as there will be a large number of pedestrians and children.

There will be food, music, and entertainment for kids.

More information to follow as we finalize details.

Old Capitol Farmers Market

The first Wednesday of the 2018 Market season. Springfield’s longest-running and most popular Farmers Market in beautiful #downtown Springfield. Open between May-October 8 a.m. -12:30 p.m.

Community Car Seat Check

Springfield Fire Department and ThinkFirst SIU school of Medicine are  sponsoring a car seat check event on from 9am-12pm at Fire Station 1.

Car Seat technicians will provide parents and caregivers with an opportunity to learn about child passenger safety and have their car seats checked for proper use and installation.

*Please bring the child who will be riding in the car seat, the vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat instruction manual, if possible.

 

The 9th Floor Sale (inspired by the Twilight Zone Episode 34)

Follow Miss Marsha White as she looks for a gold thimble. The odds are that she’ll find it—but there are even better odds that she’ll find some modern spring fashions, because these aren’t just any old stores –they’re Downtown Springfield Shops.

Participating businesses with modern spring fashions for women include The Roost, Itty Bitty Fashion Trunk, Studio on 6th, Willow & Birch, and Murphy’s Loft.

Watch a clip from the original 1960’s episode of the Twilight Zone in which this fun & freaky shopping event was inspired by here.

 

Lincoln Half Marathon

Join us on the first Saturday of April as more than 10k runners from many states and countries take in Abraham Lincoln sites during this scenic half marathon. This USATF certified course will immerse you in Lincoln history unlike any other race! This is an official Illinois Bicentennial Event.

Part I of III: Sustainability in Downtown Springfield

Ice caps are melting, our population is growing, and our winters are getting longer. So, what does that mean for our farm-dependent state?  In Illinois, our farmers depend on the land and climate to work together so that they, as growers, can yield bountiful crops.

Often, we are left overwhelmed as to what we can do to help the earth. From recycling, eating and shopping local, to turning the lights off when you leave a room, sustainability starts small and at the heart. Downtown Springfield, Inc. interviewed three of our business owners regarding their efforts to make Springfield sustainable, delving deep to showcase what makes them unique.

Michael Higgins, owner and chef of Maldaner’s Restaurant, says that buying from small farmers and eating organic is the way to go. Coming from California, one thing Higgins wanted to do when he arrived in Central Illinois was to bring more variety to Springfield. He noticed that the Midwest grew really great tomatoes, but unfortunately only one species seemed to exist. By working with local farmers and by providing them with seed, Higgins was able to add to the Midwest variety. Then in the late ’80’s, Higgins began offering organic chicken to his customers by working with farmers he met at the Illinois Product Show. One can see the pride in Higgins’ eyes as he speaks of the bond between the consumer and farmer. “It’s 100% trust,” he states. Small Farmers, away from agri-business, “ARE small businesses and we need to remember that,” Higgins says.

We are trusting these farmers to feed us with incredible food that provide us with the nutrients we need and at the same time, they are trusting us to understand that where we buy from is important.  Buying from farmers markets and your local or small farm not only helps them but helps our community, and helps our planet. We asked Higgins what he thought was the best solution to feeding our growing population while sustaining our planet and he had the best answer: “Do the best you can.”

How does buying organic help the planet? 

Organic farming is less intensive on our landscapes causing less erosion to our soil compositions. While it does often require more land in general, the amount of pesticides and herbicides are far less than conventional commodity farming — meaning less chemical run-off to our water systems and airways. While too much demand on small farms can do harm by exploiting them, the good news it that more and more “big business” farmers are transitioning to organic due to the consumer demand!

Like Chef Higgins says, all we can do is try our best. Try our best to educate ourselves as to what is harmful to ourselves, others, and the planet. While remembering that even the smallest act is helping and that if we all did one small act, like buying local, those many small acts add up to a pretty big one!

Stay tuned for next weeks’ sustainable highlight when we meet with new Director Leah Wilson and founding Board President Rachael Thomson of the Kidzeum Health and Science Children’s Museum.

*This sustainability blog post is the first of a three part series about how Downtown Springfield organizations contribute to sustainability initiatives.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Organizers say Springfield’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the biggest downstate parade to celebrate the “luck o’ the Irish.” The 34th Annual Parade with the theme “ShamRock ‘n Roll” kicks off at the “craic o’ noon” on Saturday, March 17 and thousands of viewers are expected along the parade route.

The parade starts on Jefferson & 6th heading west to 5th; Heading south on 5th to Capitol; Heading North on 6th to the Reviewing Stand, (this is our Family Friendly Area) then to Washington heading east, back to the beginning; the Horace Mann parking lot. Review the parade route>

For Families:

  • Streets will close at 9 am on Saturday morning and reopen at 6 am on Sunday
  • For the first time, there is a St. Patrick’s Day Parade Race from 9-10 am; Race starts and finishes on Washington between 5th and 6th.
  • 6th Street is considered Family Viewing area and 5th Street is considered more of the party street
  • The Hy-Vee Family Fun Fair will be 1-4 pm and is located at the Old State Capitol
  • Several parking lots in the area will charge one $5 fee for the day, including lots at 2nd and Washington, south of Obed’s on 6th Street behind the AT&T building, and the county lot on Adams across from the convention center. Free parking is available at the lots on 4th St. behind Augie’s and The Alamo.

For Revelers:

  • If you plan to consume alcohol outdoors, you must purchase a $1 wristband from retail establishments. Patrons who purchase will be allowed to have open containers on 5th Street between Monroe and Jefferson after the parade is over and while bars are open. No glass or coolers are allowed in the Parade area.
  • “I need a ride.” If you overindulge from 4 pm to 5 am, ask a bar manager for a cab voucher, courtesy of the SPD and Fire Department. Take your numbered voucher to pick up points at 4th and Adams or 6th and Adams. Lincoln Cab Co. will be there to take you home anywhere in Springfield. This safety program is paid for by the department’s DUI budget funded by previous offenders’ fees.

Talking history at Lincoln Presidential Library

The Illinois History Forum returns to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in 2018 with sessions on Lincoln, Lewis and Clark, Ronald Reagan and Ulysses S. Grant. Topics during the state’s bicentennial year will also include former capital city Vandalia during Lincoln’s time, the history of Springfield’s many colorful signs, and Chicago during the Great Migration.

What the Comp Plan Says About Downtown

Rather than attempting to stamp suburbia on our historic downtown as previous comprehensive plans did, “Forging a New Legacy,” Springfield’s new comprehensive plan, allows the community to recognize the uniqueness of each area and the opportunities (and challenges) that go with that uniqueness.

Can Springfield forge ahead with vision as the title of the newest comprehensive plan supposes? Only time will tell.

The plan, now available for public review, makes long-overdue and much-needed updates to the most recent version from 2000.

Although this new plan includes major transportation arterials that were described in previous versions (a strong nod toward outward growth), it does attempt to help steer our focus and attention back toward the center.

“Forging a New Legacy” highlights an increasingly relevant issue: rate of growth. The plan projects that Springfield will grow at around 10 percent over 20 years, or one-half of one percent per year. This conservative (and likely realistic) view on the rate of growth is important because it draws our attention back to preserving what the plan refers to as “legacy neighborhoods.”

By preserving legacy neighborhoods, the costs to city government do not rise as sharply over time (increased roadway maintenance, fire protection coverage, sewerage, etc.). The call for neighborhood master plans, including (and especially) in the central business district, is an opportunity for Springfield to address smaller details that are not necessarily at issue in other parts of the city.

In a similar vein, the comprehensive plan also includes direction for what it calls “special areas,” as well as proposed “opportunities.” These special areas should demand a greater focus, and the authors recognize that additional details must be worked out in accordance with some general principles set forth in the overall plan.

Also of interest to fans of downtown — the plan makes the assumption that railroad relocation will occur and that Third Street will ultimately be transformed into a greenway.

The public is welcome to comment on the plan until Thursday, November 16. Then it goes to the city council for formal adoption. You can access the plan (and other relevant documents) at www.springfield.il.us/Businesses/2037CompPlan.aspx.

This post was written by Steven Simpson Black, who runs his own small business while earning a planning degree from UIS.

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