Logan Square Farmers Market back Sunday after backlash over ‘pause’

The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce said the market is back on in an email Friday morning.

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Shoppers browse and walk through vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023.

Shoppers browse at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 6.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

The Logan Square Farmers Market is back on again Sunday after backlash over a decision to cancel it.

The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, which manages the market, announced the return in an email Friday morning.

Nilda Esparza, who leads the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, said the decision to hold the market after all was made after police agreed to post barricades preventing cars from driving on Sacramento Avenue through the market area.

Esparza said the market “couldn’t function” without the safety measures in place.

The decision was reversed in less than 24 hours, and Esparza is now personally calling farmers before she sends out a new map of the market.

Despite the new safety measures, Esparza is adding staff who will, among other things, make sure drivers aren’t endangering pedestrians near the market.

“We have outgrown the space,” she said Friday night. “We’re victims of our own success.”

The beloved market on Logan Boulevard between the Illinois Centennial Monument and Whipple Street has attracted unlicensed vendors who began setting up around the market, many of them to the east, where they sell used items and art.

Esparza said the market had taken those vendors under its wing — it just wanted to do so safely.

Organizers have cited traffic safety as a main concern about the expanding market, which was started in 2005. An alderman said the decision to close was also because the Chicago Police Department wouldn’t sign off on a permit allowing the market to expand into Logan Boulevard.

Bradford Hathaway, owner of American Pride Microfarm and a regular vendor at the market, said the “rash decision” to cancel the market was a big shock.

“This has shown the power of the community. There’s no way they would have gotten away with canceling,” Hathaway said. “You don’t pause farmers markets. It’s rain or shine, baby.”

Hathaway said he hasn’t witnessed or heard about any safety concerns.

“I would know because my customers would tell me. The little old lady who gets there first thing every Sunday to get her greens, she’d tell me. Our regular customers who come every single week, they would let us know if they were worried about safety,” Hathaway said.

“The market has been growing. A lot of new vendors have been added to the market, and every little corner is being filled without consideration,” Hathaway said. “It’s too big right now, expanding should take more time, planning and consideration.”

Folded chairs and a sign for Logan Square Farmers Market lean on a tree.

The Logan Square Chamber of Commerce will hold its farmers market Sunday, reversing its decision to “pause” the weekly market.

Anthony Jackson/For The Sun-Times

First Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata and 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday the market had sought to expand its permit, allowing it to set up on Logan Boulevard between Milwaukee and Sacramento avenues to accommodate the unlicensed vendors.

Market organizers needed approval from La Spata, Ramirez-Rosa, the police department and the Chicago Department of Transportation. If one doesn’t approve, then CDOT won’t OK the permit, Ramirez-Rosa said, and the police department protested the change.

Both the market organizers and the police department had safety concerns, said police spokesman Tom Ahern.

“CPD made public safety recommendations to the event organizers that are currently being considered by the event organizers,” Ahern stated in a text.

A CDOT spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Friday email from the chamber of commerce thanked Mayor Brandon Johnson, Ramirez-Rosa, La Spata, CPD and CDOT.

Getting into the Logan Square Farmers Market in 2015 was huge for Hathaway’s business, which offers micro greens and knife-sharpening.

“The market gave me an opportunity to grow,” Hathaway said. “That made it a legit business. I went from being part-time, and then I got to Logan, and it legitimized my business so I could make it full time.”

He said he depends on the market every week, and missing a day would have meant lost revenue and wasted produce.

When he heard the news about the canceled market, Hathaway said he and other vendors planned to set up Sunday regardless.

“Those other vendors are showing up every week without insurance, without permits, without business licenses. So we would have shown up anyways, and it would have gone off without a hitch,” Hathaway said.

“This market is there because of the community, so you can’t punish the vendors and the community for that.”

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