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 Farmers Market has
flourished in its new location and has grown to offer products
from 50 Saturday Vendors and 35 Tuesday vendors. You'll find wonderful
organic and homegrown produce in season, including spinach,
asparagus, tomatoes, sweet corn, apples, berries and much more.
You’ll also find delectable baked goods, sweet honey, tender
natural beef, pork, poultry, and eggs; fine wines, 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
beautiful jewelry and crafts. Plus…beautiful perennials;
bedding, heirloom, and ornamental plants; hanging baskets, fresh
cut flowers…the list goes on and on. In 2011, the market featured various special events such as cooking demonstrations,
a soap making demonstration, live animal education featuring
goats and chickens,
and gardening seminars. And don’t forget to enjoy the
delightful music that is part of the every Market! We even were
voted the #1 Farmers Market in Illinois during a
contest sponsored by
American Farmland Trust.
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!!
|Keith Johnson, Market Manager:
Keith is one of the owners of Blueloom. He oversees all operating functions of the Woodstock Farmers Market. Keith is solely responsible for obtaining all of the grant money necessary to keep the Market going with all of the excellent benefits we have available such as credit card processing at no cost to the consumer or vendor, our LINK Plus Bonus Program, and much more. Keith is also half of the duo Keith & Judy and can occasionally be seen performing at the Market. Keith is a Buschkopf Community Service Award winner which is one of the highest honors given to an individual in Woodstock.
|Michele Aavang, President:
Michele is the owner/President of Willow Lea Stock Farm. She has been attending the market as a vendor for 8 years. They raise beef cattle on their farm, which has been in their family since the 1840's. She has 60 mother cows, calve year-around, and usually they have about 130 head of cattle on the farm at any time. She's active in the community serving as Vice President of the McHenry County Farm Bureau board, Secretary of the Greenwood Cemetery Assoc. board, a former 4-H club leader and twice served on the Board of Trustees for the Village of Greenwood. She's married, and the mother of one son who's studying agriculture at UW-Platteville.
|Jan Sosinski, Vice President:
Jan and her husband, Len run Sosinski's Produce along with the help of their daughter, Chris. This is their 8th or 9th year at the WFM. They started out across the street, when the chamber was running the market. When the market became independent, Jan was elected secretary and remained in that position for 3 years. She stepped down because their youngest daughter had become very involved in school activities and she wanted to be able to attend them. Now, that things have somewhat settled down at home, Jan put her name in and was once again elected to the board, this time as vice president. Jan stated, "It is my desire to keep the market running smoothly, efficiently and remain true to our cause meaning we are the growers and producers. Our family has worked hard to maintain what we have and we will continue to strive for excellence in what we produce and provide for our customers and the efficient operation of the market." They have been providing produce since 1980.
|Judy Sampson, Treasurer:
Judy is the owner of S&S Nursery and Landscaping. The Treasurer oversees all financial accounts of the WFM, reconciles all accounts, and manages budgeted items.. They work closely with the Market Manager on the financials of the WFM. The Treasurer signs and distributes checks during the WFM to vendors who use the EBT machines.
|Cindee Robinson, Secretary:
Cindee is the owner of R Family Farm, one of the meat vendors at the Market. "I have been a vendor and a Woodstock Farmers Market Board member for the past 2 years. I was asked to fill in when our past secretary had to step down. As secretary, I take notes at all Board meetings and any special meetings that happen during the year. I feel blessed that I am a part of such an outstanding Farmers Market."
|Mark Thomsen, Non-Farming Vendor Representative:
Mark is the owner of Pop's Premier Kettle Corn. He was born in Waukegan but raised most of his life in Woodstock. He married Lisa in 1991. They had their first and only child Devan in 2006. Mark worked most of his life as a truck driver. He started Pops Premier Kettlecorn in 2011 just to get out of the rat race of driving. "We look forward to growing the business and delivering a quality product as well as some variety to our customers."
|Tracie VonBergen, Member at Large:
Tracie is Member at Large. Tracie is a partner at Von Bergen's Country Market.
|Don Humbertson, EBT Credit & Link Program Manager /
Don works our market Information Booth each week and takes care of the handling of the EBT credit card machines & transactions as well as the Link card program for the market. Don coordinates the scheduling of all of our musicians as well.
|Tammy Kise, Supporting Member:
Tammy is a Supporting Board Member representing the customers of the market. Tammy was instrumental in getting the visitors at the Market to vote during the annual American Farmland Trust's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. She set up several laptops to have visitors sit down and cast their votes right on the spot at the Market. She also assists the Market by sending out press releases to the media.
|Cindy Smiley, Supporting Member :
Cindy is a Supporting Board Member representing the City of Woodstock. She is an executive assistant to the mayor and city manager and has helped us many times in our communications with the city. She has been on the Woodstock Farmers Market Board for several years. We confer with her often on city matters.
|Heidi Maschmann, Social Media / Advertising
Consultant / Webmaster:
Heidi promotes the WFM through advertising, social media, and the WFM website. Monthly Reports are sent to the Market Manager as to the results of the current marketing campaigns. Heidi also provides an overview of the marketing for the WFM at the General Meetings to all of the vendors.