Since it opened May 11, the Vine Street Market in O’Fallon continues to grow in crowds and vendors. It hasn’t been easy, with rainy Saturdays and spring inclement weather affecting produce, but the city is pleased with the response.
That’s according to Sarah Burton, the city horticulturist and market coordinator. The market takes over the city’s new pavilion, O’Fallon Station, for 24 weeks, from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday now through Oct. 19, rain or shine. Fresh fruits and vegetables from within a 100-mile radius, artisanal items, homemade culinary goods, fresh meat, dog treats, plants, wine and pie fill booths inside and out.
“The market has been going great!” Burton said.
“It’s a happy place to be on Saturday mornings. Our vendors have been fantastic, and the community is still showing up in excellent numbers. Even in the rain, we still have a steady flow of people through the market. The Vine Street Market has become a Saturday morning gathering place and we love to see that,” she said.
The city was hoping the downtown business district would get a bounce from all the customer traffic, and local merchants have even banded together in a rebranding and marketing effort,, to show off what small business owners have to offer.
“We see a lot of people every week who are making shopping at the market and downtown area a new part of their Saturday morning routine. There are lots of families in attendance and everyone seems to enjoy the live music as the patio area stays pretty full during nice weather with people visiting, dancing and eating,” Burton said.
Avenue Realty is providing live music each week.
“The atmosphere at the market has been energetic and enthusiastic. We notice people meeting up with friends and family to hang out and enjoy the live music. It is quite the community atmosphere,” she said.
O’Fallon Station is located near the corner of First Street and Vine. Official address is: 212 E. First St. The site is bordered by Vine Street on the west, First Street to the south, Apple Street to the east, and the railroad tracks to the north.
Coming up, Chasing Rainbows will be back to offer face painting for the kids June 29.
“In July, we have three new produce vendors that will be at the market along with our staple meat, flowers, baked goods and artisan vendors,” she said.
Burton said the city built the Vine Street Market with the mindset of supporting not only O’Fallon but surrounding communities and keeping items local and in-season. The vendors and what they produce must come from within a 100-mile radius of O’Fallon.
“That means we may not always have things that you find in the grocery store. So, while we may not be able to offer lemons and bananas, we do offer what our local growers can produce, which means you are getting what is fresh, local and in-season,” she said.
“Mother Nature has dealt growers a tough hand this spring with all the rain. We hope that our community recognizes this and knows that we want as much produce as possible at the market too, but it will come as the weather allows it.”
For a special promotion, a Vine Street Club Package includes a reusable bag/tumbler combo for $15 people can purchase at the information booth. With it, one receives a 10 percent discount at Fezziwig’s Marketplace, The CoffeeHouse Company and Sweet Katie Bee’s Organic Bakery-Café, both in their stores and at their Vine Street Market booths.
Those booths open at 7:30 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the market opening so people can enjoy breakfast.
Seeing O’Fallon Station become a destination as it was intended to be is gratifying to Mayor Herb Roach.
“It’s great seeing thousands of people in downtown Saturdays shopping, eating, and enjoying themselves,” he said.
City leaders viewed the project as a central gathering place in the heart of the community — to be attractive to residents, visitors and businesses. The proposed multipurpose community plaza design for the 1.7-acre space was part of the downtown revitalization and economic initiative Destination O’Fallon, which was approved in 2016.
The Parks and Recreation Department’s hard work made this happen, and the city staff has been working with businesses. The parks and recreation department handles renting the facility out for parties, family gatherings and special events.
“The business owners in the downtown area are also starting to cooperate on upcoming events and attractions. We think that this new partnership will pay great dividends for downtown, and anyone visiting the area,” Roach said.
“There is so much going on in O’Fallon,” Roach said. “O’Fallon is a great place to be.”