Sunny weather, fresh food draw crowds to Daley Plaza City Market on opening day

The city’s longest-running farmers market, which will be open Thursdays through Oct. 26, is expected to have about 30 vendors selling produce, flowers and baked goods.

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Lillian Wilkins (right) and Rohini Bapu (left), who are on their lunch break, look at flowers on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Thursday, May 11, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Rohini Bapu, left, and Lillian Wilkins look at flowers on their lunch break Thursday on the first day of Daley Plaza City Market.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Ty Howery spent her lunch break sampling hot sauces with names like “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Screaming Banshee” on Thursday.

Eventually, she settled on a seasonal blueberry and ghost pepper sauce.

This was Howery’s first time visiting the Daley Plaza City Market, which opened Thursday, bringing tents stocked with baked goods, soaps and empanadas back to the Loop. The city’s longest-running farmers market is expected to have about 30 vendors this year.

The market is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 26, city officials said.

Howery, an office clerk who works at the nearby Daley Center, was visiting Smoking Globe Foods Ltd.

“Everywhere I go, if there’s a vendor with different hot sauces, I’m gonna try them all,” Howery said. “I’m all about the spice.”

Ty Howery buys hot sauce from James Roth, the owner of Smoking Globe Foods, Ltd., on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Thursday, May 11, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Ty Howery buys hot sauce on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop on Thursday. She said it was her first time at the market.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Smoking Globe is the retirement project of James Roth, who used to work as a chef. Now, the self-described “barbecue aficionado” is in his second season of selling sauces at markets around Chicago.

Roth said the people — both customers and other vendors — are the best part of coming to the market. He said he appreciates that customers come looking for high-quality foods made with fresh ingredients.

People walk around Daley Plaza on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market in the Loop, Thursday, May 11, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

People walk around Daley Plaza on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market on Thursday. The market will be open every Thursday through Oct. 26 and will feature around 30 vendors this year.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Mick Whitehead, who works at Stover’s Farm Market, said seeing friendly faces at the market is one of his favorite parts of the event.

Bette Cimino is likely one of those faces for market vendors across Chicago. Cimino, 90, said that during peak market season, she usually goes three times a week to locations around the city.

Cimino said she’s been going to Chicago city markets for decades. She likes that “everything’s fresh” and said going to the market gets her moving and out of the house.

Mick Whitehead, an employee at Stover’s Farm Market, speaks to Bette Cimino, who said she usually visits markets thrice a week, as she buys jam on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Thursday, May 11, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Mick Whitehead, an employee at Stover’s Farm Market, speaks to Bette Cimino, 90, who said she usually visits markets three times a week, as she buys jam on the first day of the market.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The sunny weather and temperatures in the 70s brought people out in droves, especially around lunchtime. Toni Caponera browsed the stalls on her lunch break. She works at a law firm downtown.

Caponera said one of her favorite vendors at the market is Misericodia Hearts and Flour Bakery. Misericordia is a residential home for adults with disabilities, some of whom bake cookies and breads to sell at markets, online and at storefronts in Chicago and Glenview.

Siobhan Hartsell, a volunteer at Misericordia’s Hearts and Flour bakery, shows a customer pastries on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop, Thursday, May 11, 2023. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Siobhan Hartsell, a volunteer at Misericordia’s Hearts and Flour Bakery, shows a customer pastries on the first day of the Daley Plaza City Market at Daley Plaza in the Loop on Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Jonathan Utley, the head volunteer and a parent of a Misericordia resident, said this program not only gives residents a fulfilling job, but it also helps Misericordia connect with the community.

He estimated the stand would serve around 500 customers on the first day, many of whom were regulars. They brought about 1,300 items to sell.

But Utley was worried Misericordia’s baked goods were flying off the shelves too quickly.

“We’re selling out too early,” Utley said. “I don’t like that because people are going away unhappy.” He added, customers walking away happy was more important to him than how many cookies they sold that day.

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