O’Fallon IL Farmers’ Market Receives State Honor

Another honor for the development of its downtown Farmer’s Market was the town of O’Fallon: the Most Engaged Community Partner Award from the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

In three years, O’Fallon Station and Vine Street Market has grown into an urban center in its own right, spurred downtown revitalization, and gained statewide attention for its success. .

The website contest, titled “Silver Lining Stories,” said:

“Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station is one of the largest farmers’ markets in southwest Illinois. Residents of neighboring counties and communities look forward to selling at the market and shopping at the market every Saturday. During the pandemic, Vine Street Market changed its model to a drive-thru approach and chased it for weeks. They even extended to a drive-thru Tuesday night, which people really responded to. “

In his report honoring the contributions of staff and volunteers to the community, Mayor Herb Roach announced good fortune at the O’Fallon City Council meeting on Monday evening.

He congratulated Vine Street Market Coordinator Sarah Burton, Parks and Recreation staff, volunteers at Rotary O’Fallon Club and O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, and local vendors for their efforts since 2019.

“People make the difference. Sarah Burton took the ball and ran with it, ”Roach said.

When contacted on Tuesday, Burton said O’Fallon Station and Vine Street Market have been built and continue to be community-driven.

Vineyard Street Market and BazaArt (1) .jpg
In three years, O’Fallon Station and Vine Street Market has grown into an urban center in its own right, spurred downtown revitalization, and gained statewide attention for its success. . Provided

“We are very excited and proud to win the award! Winning this award proves how amazing our supporters and community are and we couldn’t be happier, said Burton.

The market is held every Saturday morning from May to October, and offers special event programs throughout the year.

Winter market and garlands around the city

Returning as a flagship holiday activity, the winter market will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, at O’Fallon station. Approximately 50 vendors will participate in the event sponsored by Vine Street Market.

It’s the same day as Tinsel Around Town, an O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce event that will promote shopping in downtown businesses. Caboose tours, singing madrigals and Christmas stories at Avenue Realty will be part of the festivities.

“It’s a day to get you into the holiday spirit and downtown businesses,” said House Manager Debbie Arell-Martinez. “There will be so much going on downtown. ”

Market plans in 2022

At the meeting on Monday, December 6, the council approved the special event permit for the 2022 market season, which revealed new plans.

“We are excited about the 2022 market season and have several new additions in the works,” said Burton.

The expansion of the market footprint into the north side lane of the House building will be the first and most notable of the changes, Burton said.

Other activities for children will be presented, based on the survey results.

“It has confirmed that our community wants more activity at the market,” said Burton. “We will be adding two tents, one with activities for the kids and the other with interesting demonstrations and services for visitors to watch or participate in.

More seats and an additional food truck are also in the works.

“The emphasis will continue to be on local food and creating a space for the whole community to enjoy on Saturday mornings,” said Burton.

The market is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays from May 14 to October 15, 2022, with an expected attendance of 500 to 700 people.

A new traffic plan was also drawn up for the period.

Early success story

Construction of the O’Fallon station began in the spring of 2018, approved in 2016 as part of the Destination O’Fallon initiative.

Key initiatives included the city commissioning a downtown action plan and the creation of an Increased Taxation Finance (TIF) district for the region.

The $ 1.5 million lodge opened at the end of 2018, in time for the holiday season, but was officially ready in spring 2019.

The All Seasons Square was designed to create a central gathering place in the heart of the community, with the idea of ​​small festivals, gatherings, a farmers market and other events to be held there.

After years of little downtown attention and investment, the city, chamber, and downtown businesses came together to create a coordinated strategy. They wanted to make the neighborhood attractive to residents, visitors and businesses, and it became both a magnet for community activity and commerce.

The chamber and business owners formed the O’Fallon Downtown District, which revamped the region’s branding, marketing and online presence.

The city has added more than 125 paved and lighted parking spaces downtown and installed holiday lighting to help encourage new events during the Christmas season.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department oversees O’Fallon Station and its locations.

In its first full year of operation in 2019, O’Fallon Station exceeded its targets and the Vine Street Market attracted many quality sellers.

Positive feedback from the community

Community support and positive reviews have been encouraging, said Burton. They had planned to offer cooking demonstrations. But then the coronavirus pandemic occurred in March 2020 and plans for the traditional market opening in May were scrapped.

With a delay in reopening, a new idea has sprouted to give buyers another option while supporting local farmers and businesses. Burton opened a drive-through market, which was available from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday in the parking lot at O’Fallon Station, with only pre-orders and pre-payments accepted.

Burton said she borrowed the idea from other farmers’ markets in the area and adapted it to what they could do. It was a huge success.

“We wanted to offer an option to buy instead of going to a store, in addition to supporting our local farmers and businesses. Our setup has allowed us to eliminate close contact transactions, like exchanging money and getting people together in one place. While this concept is contrary to everything a standard farmer’s market is, in terms of meeting the person who grows your food and interacting with your community, from a safety standpoint, this was our only one. option, ”she said.

Regional Award in Recognized Cooperation 2019

Just one year after the opening of O’Fallon Station, the cooperative efforts of the city, chamber and business to revitalize and transform the city center have been recognized with a regional award.

The East-West Gate Council of Governments presented one of its awards for excellence in local government to the city, the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce and the downtown district of O ‘Fallon in November 2019.

Representatives of the three civic enterprises received the exemplary collaboration, partnership or regional initiative award, which was awarded for the partnership formed by the city, chamber and local businesses that made the city center a destination.

Each year, the Local Government Awards of Excellence honor the extraordinary work of individuals, city and county governments / departments, special purpose districts and public educational institutions in St. Louis and Franklin counties. , Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis. in Missouri and Madison counties, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

In its rewards program, the Gateway Council said, “With the support of residents and taxpayers, the city’s downtown has been transformed into a thriving hub of community activity and commerce. Proof in the receipts: Over the past eight years, sales tax collected in downtown O’Fallon has increased 177% and food and beverage tax collected has increased 134%.

“The coordinated approach from planning to action stages makes the resurgence of downtown from a forgotten trade corridor to a bustling energy hub and a source of community pride a truly remarkable achievement,” the program said. .

James V. Payne