By SONIA SCHLESINGER
After four years at Harold Washington Playlot Park (2010-2014), 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd., the South East Chicago Commission/Special Service Area of Hyde Park-sponsored (SECC/SSA) Farmers Market returned last summer to Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Ct., where it had been originally. Since then, attendance has increased, according to SSA records.
Significant development took place on 53rd Street in the years the Farmers Market was gone. Some Hyde Park residents have complained about the lack of parking near the new market location as a result but it has also proved to draw customers to the market, which is there every Thursday from early June to late October from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Attendance has tended to vary by weather on a given day, but overall, Chicago Farmers Markets from June 2 – Aug. 4 this year have had 31 percent higher attendance than the June 5 – Aug. 6 period last year. Last year’s total attendance over that period of time was 2,765, whereas this year’s total is 3,615. While last year held the record for highest attendance on a single day during this period—500 people on a sunny 78-degree day in August—this year attendance has more consistently topped 400.
SSA Commissioner Allison Hartman said that while the Farmer Market is doing well this year, they are continuing to take suggestions from residents for how to improve.
“We’re still feeling our way and there are several suggestions people have made that I will bring up at the next meeting,” she said. “Having a place for people to sit in the shade is something we should have and I’m sure that’s something we can deal with.”
However, she added, “they’re wrong about the parking: if you’re there when the market starts there is plenty of parking about two to three blocks west.”
The next SECC/SAA Farmers Market meeting will be open to the public and held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 17. Information about its location will be listed on the SECC and SSA websites.