The Logan Square Farmers Market has been canceled for the first time in 16 years, prompting a stampede of vendors

Logan Square – For the first time in 16 years, the… Logan Square Farmers Market Skip the summer weekend.

Market organizer Nilda Esparza announced late Wednesday in an email newsletter and confirmed it in an interview with Block Club that the bustling Sunday market, which has been voted the best market in the city in a Chicago Reader’s poll for many years in a row, will not take place at the end of the year. this week.

This will be the first time that the market has not been held since the beginning of 2007.

Esparza is pausing the market, Esparza told Block Club, after the city denied plans to expand the once-popular market.

The size of the market has far outstripped the Logan Boulevard stretch, drawing as many as 15,000 people at the weekend, compared to 7,000 last year, but city officials won’t agree to a street closure plan that it said would make the event safer.

This issue has taken on more urgency in recent months with An increasing number of casual DIY sellers Esparza said that joining the market.

Esparza, who regulates the market as executive producer for the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, defended the move to cancel this weekend’s edition. She said she did not expect the holiday to last longer than one weekend.

“The staff and I are pausing to see how we’re going to turn things around,” Esparza said. “The current method is not safe. We put safety before sales.”

A city spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Wednesday evening.

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credit: Logan Square Farmers Market / Facebook
Logan Square Outdoor Farmers Market.

“This is a devastating blow to our operation.”

The temporary closure has left some vendors scrambling.

Many of the Midwestern farms that sell at the Logan Square Farmers Market rely heavily on those sales to keep their businesses afloat.

“We are a family farm. Our farm was destroyed in a terrible fire in March. We are fighting for our financial lives, and this is a devastating blow to our operation,” said market seller Scott Koster. Geneva lakes production (Burlington, Wisconsin).

Corbin Koster, who helps run the farm with his father, said the Logan Square Farmers’ Market sales make up about 20 percent of their retail income.

He said that this weekend’s market, since it’s late August and production is pouring in, is expected to be one of the busiest markets this season.

Almost everything that we have and are going to sell this Sunday in the market is not something that we are going to be able to sell this week or the week after,” Corbin-Coster said. “The sweet corn will be so big, the zucchini will be so big – we were all up for selling this weekend and we don’t have another home for it.”

Another seller, Tamera Mark, from Iron Creek Organic Farm In La Porte, Indiana, they said they harvested early because of the extreme heat, and the cancellation would have a “significant” impact on their bottom line.

“We’re talking about losing all our revenue for the weekend, and we got the help we paid for, not to mention losing all our vegetables,” Mark said. “Markets are our livelihood. They are not a hobby for us. Closing this on a dime is not good for us and all the other sellers.”

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credit: Screenshot provided by Mary Jardine
Unlicensed antiques and art sellers around the Logan Square Farmers Market got a surprise visit from the police in 2020.

As the market grows, safety has become an increasingly pressing issue, Esparza said.

It said the market’s current design – and the addition of unlicensed sellers – had created a “bottleneck of confusion” for drivers. She said there are close calls between drivers and pedestrians every Sunday, and traffic management is the responsibility of Esparza and her junior staff.

“I can’t really have cars going to market. That’s my No. 1 primary concern,” Esparza said. “The team and I have had to manage moving cars and thousands of people. “Having to do those two things for 10 hours every Sunday is a tough thing to do.”

Over the past few years, Esparza has obtained city approval to close Logan Street between Whipple Street and Sacramento Street to vehicular traffic in the first and last markets of the season.

She said closing the street made the area safer, so she asked the city to sign off on the street closure every Sunday. But this week, city officials and police dismissed the idea, bringing it back to square one.

Esparza said she now needed time to figure out what to do next.

“All of this is very strange, because we are victims of our own success,” she said.

Sellers were very understanding of this brief hiatus, Esparza said, a testament to the strength of the established farmers market community. She said she is working to help sellers find alternative locations to sell their merchandise so they don’t miss out on the weekend of sales.

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Corbin Koster, of Jennifer Lakes Produce, said this had happened to their company before, and he went to a local restaurant to buy their produce. He said the arrangement didn’t come close to covering the lost revenue, but “it was better than nothing”.

The cancellation is painful, he said, because “the Logan Square Farmers market is the best market we do.” “We are very grateful for that and thank the Market Manager.”

Mark, who runs Iron Creek Organic Farm, echoed that sentiment. While the cancellation will hurt her business, she said she is grateful for the market and Esparza’s support, and hopes the issues can be resolved so operations can resume.

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