Farmers' market returns to Mahomet with something for everyone

The Mahomet Area Chamber of Commerce kicked off its weekly Friday farmers' markets on May 25.

Chamber director Walter Pierce said approximately 16 vendors set up shop in the Mahomet Community Center parking lot. Despite the 90-degree weather, dozens of locals attended the event to check out the wide variety of vendors, which offered everything from baked goods, fresh flowers, honey, produce and more.

"There's lots of diversity," attendee Michelle Smith said.

Though she enjoyed visiting the Big Grove Apiaries' honey booth the most, Smith said she also loved checking out all of the other booths.

"It's nice to be able to support local vendors," she added.

For youngsters Eli, 4, and Stella Heimann, 1, Kona Ice's snow cone booth was a must-stop location.

"The kids were, of course, as soon as we drove by like, 'The snow cone truck is there!'" mother Carrie Heimann said. "That had to be our first stop, too."

As a mother of three with 4-month-old Lilly asleep in her stroller, Carrie was more than excited to see the farmers' markets return to Mahomet.

"It's hard to make it all the way to the Champaign-Urbana one, so it's great to have a local one," Heimann said. "We're really looking forward to some fresh fruits and vegetables as they become ready this summer."

Though Heimann was hoping the crowds would be a bit bigger, she's positive attendance will increase once more local crops become available.

David Wickboldt from Havilah Gardens Micro Farm, of Bellflower, brought celery, cucumbers, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and much more to the market.

Wickboldt's farm is also home to a 45-tree orchard with seasonal small fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, grapes and strawberries.

"Hopefully as it goes on, we'll see a little more awareness and people will start to plan their Friday afternoons and evenings around it," Wickboldt added.

Hobbyist bee keeper Bryan Miller sold honey and other wax-based products, such as lip balms and foot balms, alongside his wife, Tina.

"I take care of the bees and she takes care of the business side," he said. "It's a great hobby and you meet a lot of interesting people.

Happy to greet community members, Bryan Miller said he couldn't complain about the crowd size.

"It's been amazing for a Friday night and it's 92 degrees and it's only going to get better," he said. "We plan to be here every Friday."

Kona Ice certainly maintained popularity with the younger crowds. Co-owner Linda Hanner worked alongside her sister Phyllis Lareau to serve the cool treats.

"My whole family is in it — my husband, my son and his wife," Hanner said. "This is our fifth season, and we do a lot of things in Mahomet."

The snow cone vendor will return for highly anticipated community events, such as tonight's Kickoff Summer Concert Series and the Mahomet Music Festival from Aug. 24-25 in downtown Mahomet.

Emily Kroner, owner of Lucky Moon Pies and More, said she, too, was pleased with the crowd turnout for the first event.

"We didn't really know what to expect," she said. "I think if the word gets out, it can be something to look forward to."

She even appreciated the decision to hold the event on Friday evenings.

"A lot of people thought Friday evenings were a goofy time to have it, but so it doesn't conflict with others like Monticello or the Urbana market, I think it's fine," she said.

Kroner brought an assortment of her famous goodies including brownies, cookies, peach streusel tarts, strawberry-rhubarb pie, peach pie, blueberry bread pudding and cake pops.

Her only suggestion was to move the actual farmers' market to the grass area across the street near the village's administrative building and leave the Mahomet Community Center's parking lot for parking.

"We're working on the real hot days possibly moving across the street in the grass with a few more shade trees," Pierce said after the event.

Other improvements include Pierce ordering 40 real-estate-sized yard signs to place around town to inform community members of the dates and times.

The farmers' markets will continue through Labor Day weekend in downtown Mahomet from 4-7 p.m. with two minor exceptions.

Tonight's event will coincide with the Kickoff Summer Concert Series at Barber Park, 703 S. McDougal Road, and no event will be held Aug. 24 in light of the Mahomet Music Festival.

"I think it does two things," Pierce said. "It brings the community together as a no-pressure event. It also brings everybody downtown and highlights our little town."

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