DARIEN – There are a few things that signal the start of summer: smoke pluming from a barbecue, pool openings, graduation commencements and of course, farmer's markets.
Summer is also special time for area park districts, which host an array of camps, classes and outdoor activities; but for the Darien Park District, this summer is especially sweet because it marks the park district's 40th anniversary.
Darien Park District Fitness Center/athletic Supervisor Tim O'Brien said to celebrate the 40th anniversary, one of the ideas was to incorporate 40 special events starting this summer and then continuing throughout the year.
When a staff member suggested bringing a farmer's market to Darien, O'Brien saw the opportunity for a staple summer event.
"I didn't want it to be a one and done type thing because you wouldn't really get the commitment from vendors for just one day," O'Brien said. "You want to build up an audience base."
O'Brien said the market, open 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays at Darien Community Park, 7100 Clarendon Hills Road, will feature traditional fruits and vegetables, but will also have an array of other items, including baked goods, jellies, salsa, barbecue sauces, artisan cheeses, cakes, kettle corn, shaved ice and funnel cakes.
"We want to make sure that every vendor we have kind of has their share of the market and we don't want a lot of crossover and duplication," he said.
The premiere market will feature between 15 and 17 vendors, each of which are paying a $200 fee for the summer.
O'Brien said one of the reasons for the event was also to give residents a market to call their own.
"What's nice about this particular market is Darien Community Park is kind of set in the neighborhood, so there's going to be a lot of people that can just walk from their places, so I'm hoping to get a lot of walk-ups," he said.
The park district is also hosting several concerts this summer, which O'Brien said coincides with the farmer's market and allows guests to shop and head to the park afterward for some entertainment.
Over the past few seasons, residents have asked park district staff about a farmer's market, and so far community enthusiasm is high as opening day approaches.
"They seemed really excited about it and are looking forward to it," he said.
If you go:
What: Darien Farmer's Market
Where: Darien Community Park, 7100 Clarendon Hills Road
When: 3 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays, from June 11 through Oct. 8
More information: Call 630-968-6400
Free entertainment after the market
Wednesday: Heartache Tonight, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
June 18: Istvan & His Imaginary Band, 6 to 7 p.m.
June 25: K.O. Bossy, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
July 2: John Measner Magic Show, 6 p.m.
July 9: Mr. Meyers, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
July 16: Ken Schultz, The Flying Fool!, 6 to 8 p.m.
July 23: Centerfold, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
July 30: The New Invaders, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 6: Vinyl Highway Band, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: Miss Jamie's Farm, 6 p.m.
Aug. 20: Flashback 45, 7 to 8:30 p.m.