Glorious weather and Summerfest helped to boost the success of Forest Park’s first farmers’ market last Friday at the Howard Mohr Community Center parking lot, 7640 Jackson Blvd.
The market’s debut received a green thumbs-up from growers like Randy Brockway of Riverside who was selling his first product of the season: herbs.
“The market has great potential. It’s in a good location,” he said. Brockway Farms offered fresh cut herbs, oregano, tarragon, mint and bergamont. “I’ll have vegetables to offer soon.”
Other vendors brought the first cool-season harvests: Strawberries and asparagus. Community Center Chef Denise Murray worked the crowd with samples of fresh strawberries and ice cream. Murray also whipped up some mint iced tea from Brockway’s stand – customers snapped up his entire supply. Murray’s daughter Kimberly, 13, and son Gavin, 11, helped Mom by dressing up in carrot and onion suits.
As the summer progresses, strawberries will be replaced with blueberries, peaches, apples, melons, sweet corn and tomatoes.
Every visit to a farmers’ market is different depending on what’s in season, said Brockway. But shoppers can consistently find home-made sauces, salsas, baked goods, organic meats and candy sold by the other vendors.
Especially popular Friday were “Co-op Hot Sauces” and barbeque rubs made from locally grown peppers at Campbell Gardens in Humboldt Park.
Early greens made their appearance with fresh spinach, kale, lettuces and radishes. Local honey from the 12 hives in Elgin’s Denanne Farms was also sold, along with creamed honey, honeycomb, hand-dipped beeswax candles, beeswax lip balms and soaps.
The market is held on alternating Fridays from 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 pm. The market’s Facebook page (with 185 fans) lists recipes and announcements. The next market will take place June 18, with an official ribbon cutting, rain barrel painting, wine tasting and raffle.
Cruise by on Tuesdays
Classic and muscle-car owners are finding a new place to cruise in Forest Park with their loved ones – and maybe a friend or two. All summer, Forest Park will host free Cruise Nights on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Constitution Court on Madison Street.
At the first cruise night recently, a DJ played Beach Boys classic car-songs, and – lo and behold – a real little GTO (“arrest-me-red”) was proudly displayed, open-hooded for admiration. Not since Berwyn disassembled the “eight-car-pile-up” in the Cermak plaza has a local parking lot hosted so much American steel, fins, wheels and chrome.
“We had around 75 cars the first Tuesday,” says volunteer organizer and Rhino truck-bed mechanic Pete Engel, “[Madison] was packed. It was busy on both sides up and down.” Around 50 cars showed up the second Tuesday.
H&R Towing’s Larry Moskos brought the idea to the village based on his experience with a similar Cruise Night in Lemont that attracts between 300 and 500 cars weekly. Organizers say Cruise Night will bring people to Madison Street on Tuesday, the week’s slowest evening. Local businesses have donated more than $6000 to get the event started. A 50-50 split the pot raffle paid out $360 to the winner on the first night.
It’s not a show or competition, just a chance to hobnob with what Detroit-native Iggy Pop calls “Cold metal: the skeleton of freedom in the USA.”
Among the vehicles ogled by motorheads were: A salmon pink Olds convertible with fur-lined steering wheel and a dice-head stick shift, a red 1940 Ford Coupe, a black thunderbird and a cherry red Mustang convertible.
Most of the cars were Detroit-derived, with notable exceptions of a navy 1930s Jaguar, an MG midget convertible the second night, and a Porche. Many are lovingly documented on the Cruise Night’s Facebook site, which has more than 260 fans. The park fountain became a dance floor and Shanahan’s offered $3 sliders and fries and throw-back chocolate malts. These are big guys with big cars, big cigars and big smiles. “They get to show off their pride and joy,” says Engel.