Rockford City Market 2017: A season of records

Adam Poulisse, RRStar

ROCKFORD — From weather extremes to six-digit attendance, it has been a record-breaking season for Rockford City Market. “We’ve been blessed with the attendance and the number of vendors,” said Cathy McDermott, City Market manager. “We’ve had good weather mixed in — in July and August, there were more consistently nice days than in previous years.” Here’s a look at this year’s numbers ahead of the final Friday for the weekly downtown festival. Attendance Last Friday, 2,643 people visited a warmer-than-usual City Market, enough to push the year to a record high — City Market has recorded 103,034 visits so far, besting the previous record of 101,860 visits in 2015. “We continue to be grateful for the community’s ongoing support of the market and of downtown,” McDermott said. Hot fall The calendar said fall officially began Friday, but temperatures that day made it feel more like summer. With a high of 92 degrees, it was the warmest September day for City Market. In fact, it was the warmest one all season. The city almost tied the Sept. 22 record of 93 degrees, set in 1937. An inflatable cooling station was set up Friday to provide some relief from the heat, which is just what Rockford resident Zach Frazer needed — he had his 2-week-old son Evan in a baby carrier. It was his first City Market of the season. He said the weather “makes him laugh.” “All summer long it felt like it was cool and rainy,” he said. “Now it feels like summer.” The bright green JavaMania truck, a staple at the weekly market, benefits from selling hot and cold drinks. But the scorching temperatures last week affected business, JavaMania owner Sandi Keller said. “Overall it’s been a good year, but tonight it’s too hot,” she said. “We’ve only sold a few drinks, and they’ve all been cold.” Cold start The weather during this year’s City Market season has seemed to operate on its own bizarre calendar. When City Market kicked off on May 19, it was in the mid-40s, making it the coldest opening day ever. Despite the wet season, Fridays usually remained clear and inviting. This year, City Market was never rained out, although it closed early once in July due to inclement weather. Swedish Soul Fusion — which offers Asian and Swedish food — had its first season at the market this year. Kara Davis, who owns the business with Cyndi Brush, said she saw business even if the weather was crummy. “Although a lot of people aren’t walking around when it’s raining, people come just to make purchases,” Davis said. She said the market had “been a great marketing tool” for the business that started out of the GPS Farmers Market in Machesney Park. “When you’re at the City Market, it gives you credit in the culinary market.” Second biggest single-day attendance Pent-up demand was high following a cold and wet start to the City Market season. Sunny skies and 85 degrees on June 2 drew 8,868 visitors, second only to Fourth of July weekend in 2016, when the market offered extended hours. In 2016, 97,030 visited City Market. Pumpkin decorating and a scavenger hunt utilizing vendors are on tap for the final day. There will be giveaways Friday for the first 200 people who enter the market through the East State Street pavilion entrance. Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344;; @adampoulisse Rockford City Market attendance figures 2012: 55,783 2013: 75,463 2014: 75,510 2015: 101,860 2016: 97,030 2017: 103,034 (as of Sept. 22) Source: Cathy McDermott

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The Rock River Development Partnership (RRDP) was established in 2009 as a 501c3 organization. The RRDP brings businesses and people together to create place. We are entrepreneurial and experiential market makers. Our strategies are to create connections between local entrepreneurs and customers to drive economic development to Rockford’s urban core and historic commercial districts, and to foster vibrancy through the activation of storefronts, placemaking and tourism.

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