Farmers’ Market Provides Consumers Direct Contact with Farmers

Normal—Typically on a Saturday morning, many families are unwinding from a long workweek by sitting down and enjoying a healthy, full breakfast. In Downtown Bloomington, the Farmers’ Market provides those families the perfect chance to buy their breakfast’s ingredients directly from the farmers who grow them.  

Every Saturday morning, starting in May and ending on the last Saturday in October, both local and farmers from all over the state can be found selling their goods at the Farmers’ Market in Downtown Bloomington, a U-shaped market wrapped around the McLean County Museum of History.

Beginning at 7:30 am, the market goes on until noon, every Saturday. Three streets—Main, Center, and Jefferson—are blocked off in reservation for the market, according to the Downtown Bloomington Association’s (DBA) website.

Various goods are sold at the market, including: meat, eggs, produce—both fruits and vegetables, cheese, and even art, according to Marisa Brooks, market manager.  

The market does not only offer different types of food.  It also has different types of art, like jewelry, ceramics, and paintings, according to Brooks.

When asked if any particular weekend brought in significantly more customers than the others, Brooks replied, “Not one weekend is busier than another, typically.  We’re always busy.”

However, she went on to say, “9 a.m. to about 10 a.m. is steadily the market’s busiest time, in terms of foot traffic.”

While some are, the farmers and artists who provide the market’s goods are not only from the Bloomington-Normal area. Farmers from the east coast of the state, like Fithian, and the west, like Peoria, all make the trip to downtown Bloomington on Saturday mornings. Some of the goods are brought from as far north as Rockford, according to Brooks.

Not only do the goods come from all around the state of Illinois, but, according to Brooks, so do consumers who attend the market. “There’s a good mix of [customers] from the Bloomington-Normal area and various other towns throughout Illinois,” said Brooks.

These farmers travel all the way to the DBA’s Farmers’ Market in order to directly provide their customers with crops and goods. According to their website, the market’s mission is to “help energize Downtown Bloomington by providing a forum where urban residents can deal directly with the farmers who grow their food products.”

The sale of goods is not the only activity at the market.  It also has a balloon artist, face painting, a petting zoo provided by Miller Park Zoo, and free blood-pressures checks, according to Brooks.

In 1974, farmers from the area gathered to create a market for the first time, but did not have a set location. The market moved to different spots around Bloomington-Normal. In 1997, the Farmers’ Market settled in downtown Bloomington and has been there ever since, according to Brooks.

There is no fee to attend the market. “It is a free event,” said Brooks, adding, “The only time money is exchanged is when consumers buy goods from the farmers.”

If someone runs out of cash at the market, they can still buy goods, as long as they have some type of credit, debit, or link card, according to the DBA’s website.