Just like other annual public events, the 95th Street Farmers Market is a little different this year.
Still, as summer progresses, organizers said the market still looks about the same as usual.
The market, a staple at 95th Street and Longwood Drive on Sundays in the spring, summer and fall, was open for the second time this year on June 28.
Safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but 95th Street Beverly Hills Business Association Executive Director Erin Ross said the early response has been positive.
“Our turnout [on June 21], which was our opening, was a lot better than we expected,” Ross said. “We just thought between Father’s Day and then it first opening, it’d be slow, but our bread guy sold out by 11 a.m. last week. It was busy.”
According to Ross, the number of vendors has been “a little lighter” thus far, but she expects more to participate as the season continues.
About 12 vendors participated on June 28, and two vendors from years past will return on July 5.
Several new vendors are set to join, but Ross asked them to wait until mid-July to participate.
Visitors are required to wear masks—which are available at the entrance—and they receive hand sanitizer upon arrival. Customers are instructed to not touch produce.
Other notable changes to promote social distancing include no eating on site, no live entertainment, no kids zone, no dining tent and no dogs.
Customers can also pre-order items so they can quickly move in and out of the area.
The market usually opens in early May, but with stay-at-home orders in place, it had to move to a virtual format in the early going this year. Customers could order from vendors online, and Crystal Nells, of C and D Farms in Indiana, delivered the orders.
While the market was quieter this year on June 28 with no music to be heard, it still had a familiar feel thanks to the returning vendors.
Coco’s Tamales, of Bridgeview, is in its fourth year at the market.
The owner, who asked to be identified as Coco, said she sold out her inventory several hours before the market closed.
“People are pre-ordering. It’s great,” she said. “I like that better. Things are being pre-packaged and frozen.”
While many vendors are local or from the South Side, some come from out of state, including Emmy and J Gourmet, of Tampa, Fla.
Lingo Khor said his business, which sells Kentucky bourbon roasted nuts and dips, is in its third year at the market.
He usually offers samples, but even without that being allowed, he was pleased with how the day went.
“Everybody paid attention to [the rules],” Khor said. “So far, so good. I’m quite amazed at the turnout. We have a lot of repeat customers locally.”
Khor said he was looking to get out of Florida during the summer months, and a friend recommended Chicago as an area with thriving farmers markets.
He said he enjoys the weather being slightly cooler than Florida’s—and the market’s pleasant clientele.
“The farmers markets here are very different than Florida,” Khor said. “Mainly, the customers are very nice. And, the rent is so cheap. It’s like 1/10th of what we pay back in Florida.”
The market is open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday, with 8 to 9 a.m. designated for seniors and anyone who has compromised immune systems.
For more information, visit Facebook or the 95th Street Beverly Hills Business Association website at 95thstreetba.org.