Maybe it’s cliche to say this year’s Farmers Market+ at The Dole is bigger and better than ever, but it’s also true. With more vendors and more excitement squeezed in, Crystal Lake’s biggest farmers market continues to deliver.
The fun happens 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through October, as 100 vendors and additional food trucks bring everything from fresh produce and meat to honey, baked goods, pizza and tacos, local artisans and children’s activities to the grounds of the Dole Mansion.
“One of the things we get the most feedback about is how happy and nice everyone is, and the variety of vendors and the complementary things we offer to families, such as a balloon artist, face painting, Busy Brains Children’s Museum, characters roaming around, and a weekly cooking demo,” says Sharon LeCoque, who works behind the scenes with her husband, Jay, and her sister, market manager Linda Wozniak. “These activities are free because of our sponsors, so parents can enjoy other aspects of the market while the kids are entertained.”
At the south entrance, visitors can now find food trucks, a full-service bar, seating and a live musician on the Southside Charlie’s stage. Around the circular lawn at the west entrances, find children’s activities, musicians on the Ringling Stage, additional seating, and more food trucks. Parking and admission are free.
Since the LeCoques and Wozniak launched Farmers Market+ in 2021, it’s been named Illinois’ top market by the American Farmland Trust. LeCoque hopes this year will mark a third straight title. Fans can vote at markets.farmland.org.
Some 35 volunteers keep the weekly market running, and more help is always welcomed, says LeCoque. Proceeds from the market help to support the ongoing preservation of the 1865 Dole Mansion and its programming. A portion also goes back to the community through the Service League of Crystal Lake.
“We are self-funded, so all of the events we are doing, including the farmers market, Music Under the Trees concert series and Lakeside Festival, help us to keep The Dole running and ensure it’s still here in another 100 years,” says LeCoque. ❚
The Dole is located at 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 455-8000.