Back by popular demand, the Illinois Products Farmers' Market is set to return to the Illinois State Fairgrounds for an eighth season on Thursday, May 7th. This year the market moves to its new location at the Shed, across from the Lincoln stage. The market will be held every Thursday from 4pm - 7pm, with the exception of the two Thursday's during the Illinois State Fair.
"There are more than 3,200 farms in Illinois dedicated to growing specialty crops. We are seeing an increased demand for these items. Illinois is proud to be the nation's leader in growing pumpkin and horseradish, as well as a major supplier of cantaloupe, green peas, lima beans and sweet corn," said Philip Nelson, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. "The Illinois Products Farmers' Market is a great place for you to meet the hard working men and women driving the specialty crop industry forward in Illinois."
Returning again as title sponsor of the market is Springfield Clinic. The addition of the healthcare group makes the Illinois Products Farmers' Market more than just a one-stop shop for fresh produce, it also serves as a great source of health and wellness information.
All season long, market-goers will have one-on-one access to specialists in diet & nutrition, orthopedics (bone & joint health), dermatology (skin), cardiology (heart), audiology (hearing), women's health, sports medicine and many more.
"We really enjoy partnering with the Illinois Department of Agriculture on this project," said Mark Kuhn, Springfield Clinic's Chief Administrative Officer. "It's an ideal way to support local producers, highlight the connection between nutrition and our health, and engage with our patients and community, all at the same time."
On opening night, Springfield Clinic will be giving away free reusable shopping tote bags to the first 250 market-goers to visit the Springfield Clinic booth at the market.
New this year at the market will be "Grilling 101." Springfield Clinic's registered dietitians will be on-hand to share important preparation and cooking advice for meats and veggies on the grill. Starting in June, and just in time for Father's Day, market patrons can pick up a free grilling booklet and collect recipes as part of the special series.
July will be "Senior Month" at the market. Representatives from AARP, a gold-level sponsor, will be on hand to educate seniors about a healthy lifestyle, and healthy choices. The organization will also sponsor several fun activities for seniors, like bingo and cooking demonstrations.
The Illinois Products Farmers' Market will once again accept SNAP benefit cards. Program participants just need to bring their cards to the Illinois Department of Agriculture table to obtain tokens that can be used to purchase their desired food items. Senior and WIC coupons available through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program will also be accepted.