Editor’s note: Urbana’s Market at the Square is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.
Urbana’s Market at the Square director Natalie Kenny Marquez provides what you need to know for this year’s weekly event, which opens May 7 and runs through Nov. 5.
Q: The Market has been in hibernation long enough and we can’t wait for May 7! Will there be the familiar faces?
I couldn’t agree with you more on that one! All the favorites will be coming back to this year’s market along with some fresh faces. Three new produce vendors joined our ever-growing market this season, including one vendor who grows his own gourmet mushrooms and seems like a really “fungi” (I couldn’t help myself). To keep up with who will be at the Market, we suggest checking out our online Market map. It will show you who will be at Market, where they will be located, and how you can connect with them if you have questions. Additionally, if there is a specific product you’re looking for and you’re not sure who sells it, you can search for it using our online search tool. In addition to both of those, we also offer a weekly email delivering you what’s fresh and what’s new at the Market. You can subscribe to that here.
Q: You’re always tweaking the market to make sure it stays fresh (ha, pun intended). What new initiatives and plans should we be watching out for? Every year, it seems like you add something new and exciting to the Market? What can we expect to be added this year?
Something I’m really excited about is our Chef Demos that we are implementing this year. On the first Saturday of every month during the Market season, we will have a local chef or cook come to the market and prepare a dish using sourced ingredients from the market vendors! We’re trying to show patrons the different things you can do with the fresh food the vendors make available to them. We are also adding a new seating area in the Southeast corner! There were plenty of requests for more seating and we’re really trying to nurture the social aspect of the Market.
Q: That sounds really interesting about the Chef Demos! It’s just too bad there isn’t any wine to enjoy with those …
Funny you should “wine” about that (believe me, I’m just getting started). Along with the Chef Demos, we have Sleepy Creek Vineyards and Alto Vineyards in Champaign to offer wine pairings with the samples of the prepared food. Each week, they will bring select wines from their collection and allow for patrons to see which wines go well with specific foods. It should be a fun, learning experience. It’s also a great way to expand upon our Farm, Fresh and Fast recipe cards. We share a new recipe card each week that features easy to prepare recipes incorporating seasonal items that cost just a few dollars per serving. We’ll be cooking up the recipes every Thursday on WCIA’s afternoon program ciLiving and make those recipe cards available at our information tent in the northwest corner. We test each recipe out in our “test kitchen” (also known as the Market Director’s home kitchen) and many have become family favorites.
Q: The programs you plan for the Market are always fun and engaging but one we really love is Sprouts. Any news on that?
Sprouts is always a fun program for us to do! It’s free and a fun way to teach our children how our food is grown, where it comes from and why it is so important to eat whole fruits, veggies, meat, dairy and more. This year, we’re kicking it off with a fun “kids in the kitchen” program. Sprouts will take place on the third Saturday of each month from May through October from 9:30-11:30 a.m. We’ll have more news “shooting” up (bet you thought I’d say sprouting huh) in the near future so stay tuned! You can learn more about Sprouts at the Market here.
Q: How do we keep up-to-date on products available at the Market?
We suggest checking our online Market map and product search tool or subscribing to our weekly Market Mail. We also try to post updates as often as we can on our Facebook and Twitter, and we record a video called Market Menu each week that we run on UPTV and post on YouTube. You’re also welcome to stop by our tent at the northwest corner of the Market to ask questions and to pick up a sheet to learn what’s in season.
Q: Well you’ve certainly got us excited about the Market this year! We can’t wait to come check it out!
Urbana’s Market at the Square is a great place to come get fresh, local food, and a wonderful place to socialize and check out all the artisans and performers. You just can’t “beet” it.