Who We Are:
The Market, now in its 30th year, is located on the Historic Woodstock Square, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was recognized in 2007 as a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to our wonderful Farmers Market, the Square is very much alive with the famed Woodstock Opera House, the Old Courthouse Arts Center, distinctive shops, unique restaurants and coffee shops, and comfortable lodging. The Square also boasts many unique special events throughout the year.
Located approximately 50 miles northwest of Chicago in the center of McHenry County, Woodstock also serves as the County Seat. Initially, the majority of homes, businesses, and industry were located on the eastern edge of the County along the Fox River. McHenry County has rapidly become urbanized, however, with growth radiating to the west. Thousands of acres of prime agricultural land still exists; however, the ability of small specialty crop growers to continue their agricultural pursuits depends upon being able to directly market their crops at venues such as the Woodstock Farmers Market.
The Woodstock Farmers Market is a producers’ market, allowing only products that are grown, produced, or made by the local Farmer or Artisan. The market is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the producers. The Board establishes the rules, assigns spaces and fees, and develops publicity strategies. Board members also inspect each vendor’s facility to ensure that all products are grown or produced by that vendor. That means you will find only the freshest, tastiest, in-season produce and healthy, locally-grown plants. Of course, our other products…beef, eggs, pork, honey, wine, cheeses, etc.…are all grown or produced locally, by the vendors you’ll meet at the market. We encourage you to ask questions and get to know our vendors. Remember…Buy Fresh…Buy Local.
The Growing Years:
The Woodstock Farmers Market was established in 1982. The first markets were held on Wednesdays and at one time moved to different locations around the Square. Eventually the market day was changed to Thursday and the market was held in front of the old courthouse on Johnson Street. The Chamber of Commerce was responsible for running the market. If you wanted to sell, you came, backed into a parking space and sold on the sidewalk in front of the old County Courthouse. The early markets would have three to six farmers. In 1992 the daily fee was $10 to set up.
In the fall of 1994, the Chamber wrote a letter to all the attending farmers explaining that the market was losing money and the 1995 fee would need to be adjusted. This discussion led to an advisory committee to the Chamber which was established in 1995. The first advisory committee consisted of Sue Klemm, Jean Niemann and Keith Johnson, with Keith Johnson as the first Market Manager. Market rules were established, spaces laid out, and budgets established. Farmers were encouraged to attend the market for the full season at a reduced fee and rules were instated defining the Woodstock Farmers Market as a Producer Market. The advisory committee ran the market from the 1995 season through the 2003 season.
In 1997, a Saturday market was added and held at the Train Depot parking lot on Clay Street. The Saturday market was held in this location for two years. Sales at the Thursday market surpassed those at the depot on Saturday, and the market never really thrived in that location.
In the Spring of 1999, the Saturday Farmers Market was allowed to move to the Square. The location of both markets was still in front of the Old County Courthouse on Johnson, but the city allowed us to use the side streets of Cass and Jackson so we were able to add more vendors. The market had both markets in this location from 1999 to 2006. In 2003 around 12 vendors were attending.
In 2004 the participating farmers of the Woodstock Farmers market decided to incorporate as a separate entity from the chamber. The first officers were Dan Simek Chairman, Jean Niemann Vice Chair, Keith Johnson Secretary, Judy Sampson Treasurer, and Rich Brook as Delegate at Large. The First meeting of the Woodstock Farmers Market NFP had 13 members attending. In 2005 the weekday market was changed to Tuesday and by then the Saturday market had became the dominant market.
In early 2007, the board approached the city about changing the location of the market to allow for more room and visibility. The City agreed to allow the market to set up around the square. The city blocked off the street for us and both markets were held around the square for the first time. Though there had always been music performed on a sporadic basis in the past, it was when we moved to the location around the Square when we added music on a regular basis. In the fall of 2007, Woodstock created the bump outs on each corner of the square, and so in 2008 we were allowed to use the center of the square for music and some vendors.
We paid the city to set up the market in 2008. In 2009, the market decided to purchase its own barricades and hire a market manager to set up the market. The market also hired a part time information booth person. In 2009, the market won a contest sponsored by Local Harvest and was named the Best Farmers Market in Illinois.
In 2010, we held our first Winter Market on Saturdays in November and December with 15 vendors from the regular market. We moved to an indoor location at the McHenry County Farm Bureau Building at 1102 McConnell Road in Woodstock and had over 200 visitors come out each week to shop and enjoy the live music. We continued with the indoor Winter Market in 2011, as well, on the first three Saturdays in November and December from 9am until noon.
Where We Are Now:
The Woodstock Summer Farmers Market has approximately 40 Saturday Vendors and 30 Tuesday vendors. You’ll find organic and homegrown produce and fruits in season. You’ll find delectable baked goods, sweet honey, tender natural beef, pork, poultry, eggs; and delicious cheeses. In addition to all of these wonderful goodies to tempt your taste buds, you’ll find woolen products and fleece; delightful soaps and body products; knife sharpening, and even some crafts. Plus…beautiful perennials; bedding, heirloom, and ornamental plants; hanging baskets, fresh cut flowers.
After shopping the Market, browse the many unique shops & visit the great restaurants located around the Square. With so many special and interesting things to see and do in Woodstock, come for the Farmers Market…stay for the fun!!