Rockford City Market readies for 2020 season with changes for coronavirus


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Rockford City Market is just two weeks away from kicking off the 2020 season.

New restrictions have been put in pace to keep everyone shopping and working safely.

“We’re a little worried about the volume that it’s going to bring,” said Jammin’ Jerk Grill owner, Renee Radway.

Rockford City Market will look different this year. Not only is it starting three weeks late, it is moving to an “in and out” format.

“So, basically, that’s transaction based,” said Rockford City Market Manager, Cathy McDermott. “It allows people to come and buy from local vendors and growers, but, unfortunately, removes having anything to do with gathering”

Without live music, seating, shoppers staying to eat, and other activities during the first several weeks, attendance is expected to slump. McDermott says she is working with vendors to make up for potential losses.

“We are prorating the fees so that the first 3 weeks, the fees have been taken off, and then as they decide what they’re going to do, we’ll prorate the fees depending on the number of weeks they’ll be here,” said McDermott. “We’re trying to be flexible with the vendors, in terms of letting them decide to start in June or July or August, as things will hopefully loosen up.”

Market entrances will also be watched to keep crowds from gathering. Vendors will also be spaced farther apart and on only one side of the street. City Market is urging vendors to switch to electronic payments instead of cash as well. That will help limit contact between shoppers and employees

“We’ll see if we’ll be able to tweak things, because it is a four month season,” said McDermott. “So, this is just what we’re saying to start out with and then we’ll go from there”

Opening day will be Jammin’ Jerk Grill’s first experience at City Market. Owner Renee Radway says she signed up after seeing last year’s record breaking attendance numbers. Even though crowds will be thinner, she’s still excited to take part.

“We’re ready to take it on hands on,” said Radway. “I mean, world and life is all about change. So, to get out there and be able to do our first season, even though we’re going through COVID-19, it’s going to be alright.”

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