The Logan Square Farmers Market, a popular summer bazaar for Chicagoans who enjoy picking out stone fruit, avoiding oversized strollers, and watching dogs sniff each other’s butts, became the scorching hot epicenter of local drama this week. It’s the same weekly event that has earned the questionable title of Chicago’s “horniest” farmers market, a concept perhaps best understood as different strokes for different folks.
“[Y’all] do not understand the Logan Square Farmers Market drama is so real,” a looky-loo wrote on social media.
The market is a place restaurants can buy produce or set up shops themselves to sell sandwiches, pastries, and other treats.
So how did the neighborhood’s lengthy, lusty, produce-laden market become the source of tempest-in-a-teapot-style melodrama? Come along, gentle reader, on Eater Chicago’s guide to the Logan Square Farmers Market Blowup:
Why are people so upset about the Logan Square Farmers Market?
The kerfuffle kicked off on Wednesday, August 23, when market organizer Nilda Esparza (also the executive producer of the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce) announced that the coming market on Sunday would be canceled for the first time in its 16-year history. That’s a big deal for vendors, some of whom were very mad and said they weren’t consulted about the change. Their businesses often rely on the income that comes from the markets, particularly those who sell produce and other perishable items that will otherwise go to waste.
Why was the market canceled?
Esparza told Block Club Chicago that the market’s wild popularity — attracting up to 15,000 people per weekend — has outgrown its footprint, sparking concerns over safety. There are concerns about uninvited guests — vendors without licenses — selling clothes and other goods by setting up shop nearby who want to cash in on large crowds without the fest’s blessing. There’s bitterness by some vendors who paid the fees, and there’s worry about the congestion that the renegade vendors bring.
Esparza submitted a street closure plan to the city that would shut down Logan Boulevard between Whipple and Sacramento, however, the proposal was denied so she felt obliged to take the week to figure out a path forward.
What happened to that proposed street closure plan?
The intricacies of how that played out are mostly opaque and probably boring, but 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa took to X on Wednesday to express his and 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata’s support for changes to the market. “I understand [Chicago Police Department] denied these changes, leading to cancelation,” he writes. “I’m livid. I’ve reached out to city officials and hope this matter is resolved soon.”
Okay, so where do things stand now?
Although Chicago has other markets, including in Wicker Park — which also takes place on Sundays — some farmers complained that produce grown for Logan Square would be wasted and canceling would affect their bottom lines. But after all that, Sunday’s market is back on. Esparza notified vendors on Thursday night via email, writing that organizers were able to hammer out a solution to curb traffic concerns. The details of their plan remain unclear, according to Block Club.