The weather seems to have turned the corner in Central Illinois and Autumn has arrived. This month will be the last full month for the outdoor markets. Both the Urbana and Champaign markets run through October, so there are plenty of opportunities to check out the fall produce as well as many events this month. The last day for the Urbana market is November 5th and the Champaign market runs through October 25th. This month at the market is really all about pumpkins, gourds, and apples. If you are looking for locally grown seasonal produce and baked goods, the market is the place to be!
In Urbana this month, the market will still feature all the usual monthly events. On October 8th, art at the market has their last activity and music of the year featuring Carol Farnum in a freestyling event that involves walls and paint and the musical stylings of The Music Boxers. The last Sprouts event of the season will take place on October 15. This “aMAIZEing” event will teach kids ages 3 through 8 all about corn. This free event runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The ever faithful and fun Urbana Free Library returns to the market on October 22nd with Read at the Market. The librarians read aloud on the magic carpet any book of a child’s choosing, so plan a few extra minutes if you have a kiddo with you — it’s worth the extra time.
A special halloween event is on October 29th called Market at the Scare. Market at the Scare is a relatively new addition to the market, but has been really fun in the past. Kids and adults are encouraged to wear their costumes to the market, and there is a costume contest for family friendly costumes. Some of the vendors also participate in trick or treating and there is a no-carve pumpkin decorating table that provides all the supplies to decorate your purchased pumpkin. It is really fun to see all the kids dressed up so I highly encourage attending this event. Market at the Scare also features a chili cook off this year. This event is sponsored by Dr. Christopher Jordan Orthodontics.
This month the Champaign farmer’s market is changing its hours from 4 to 7 pm to 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The market will also be offering triple LINK benefits this month, so LINK users can use up to $40 a week. The LINK program offers a great way for users to maximize their dollars on fruits and vegetables. The Champaign market will also feature some great events, including some events with the City of Champaign and the Farmer Frankenstein from the Orpheum Children’s Museum for Halloween on October 25th. There may even be a jack-o-lantern contest. Plans are still being developed so check the Land Connection’s Facebook page for updates.
Both markets will have plenty of pumpkins, apples, gourds and other fall produce for eating and decorating. Last year I got a pumpkin from the Urbana market that lasted well through Halloween and much longer than the neighbor’s pumpkins! And while we might be approaching the end of the outdoor market season, stay tuned for Market IN the Square which is the combination of what used to be the Holiday and the Middle markets. Market in the Square starts on November 26th.
The Urbana market is one of the largest farmer’s markets and has been in continuous operation since 1979. The Urbana market runs from May 7th to November 5th each Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. No pets are allowed.
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. Some vendors have card readers on their smart phones, but I haven’t seen too many of those. See information about LINK tokens here. If you run out of cash at
the Market, there is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall.
Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street. Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the Market off of Illinois.
Information: You can follow the Market on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. This year market mail has included some nice seasonal recipes so it might be worth it to sign up! And check out the Market Instagram for some gorgeous photos.
The Champaign market is on Tuesday evenings from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Champaign. Parking is available in parking lot M off of Neil Street. Vendors take mostly cash, but some do take cards on their smartphones. If you run out of cash, there are ATMs close by in the Busey building on University, or at the PNC location on Main Street just behind the market. To learn more about the Tuesday market, check the Land Connection's website.
Photos by Jessica Hammie.