Rockford City Market was packed with people on its last night of the season Friday. The large crowd is an indication of the market’s record-breaking attendance this year.
“We’re at 103,000 going into tonight,” said market organizer Cathy McDermott. “So we’re very happy with the attendance this year. Despite a couple of bad weather weeks, overall, our crowds are up.”
McDermott believes those crowds would come out for an indoor market. City Council members are considering a proposal to make it a year-round event.
“When the outdoor market ends, then we would be able to use the space in there for winter markets, seasonal markets. They’ll also be a commercial kitchen in there for entrepreneurs so they can work on starting up businesses. And then they’ll be some permanent tenants as well, that’ll be there like 5 days a week, year-round,” she explained.
The indoor market would be housed in a vacant building at 118 Madison Street. The city already agreed to help pay for the refurbishment of the two-story building. If it approves the indoor market, the city will be on the hook for additional construction costs, as well as any losses the indoor market sees for the first 5 years.
McDermott says she’s confident that won’t be an issue.
“The risk to the city of anything, any guarantees being invoked are extremely unlikely,” she said.
The owner of Beepa’s, Roger Turner, specializes in making things like salsas and Bloody Mary mixes. He started the small business in Beloit, and believes having the opportunity to market to Rockford residents year-round would be perfect for him.
“To be able to have a location where people can come year round, you know, not just for the market, but also be able to get stuff in the off-season, (for) a product like mine, that works out great,” said Turner. “Cause it’s not fresh, it’s cooked. So I can sell it and maintain it all year long.”
But Turner isn’t just thinking of himself. He says the indoor market would give the Rockford community a big economic boost.
“Everything here is made, and (purchased) locally. Anything I use. The bottles, the lids, whatever the case may be. So it helps the economy in the area immediately.”
Rockford City Council is set to vote on the indoor City Market at their meeting next Monday, October 2nd.