Downtown: Meet, greet and eat!

Be seen at the scene, Ideas: Downtown: Meet, greet and eat!


Downtown: Meet, greet and eat!

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Bridget Broihahn

Well, it’s Tuesday in the summer, so it can only mean one thing- The Land Connection’s Champaign Farmer’s Market! Yes, that’s right, the market, also known as TLC Champaign Market, is back and in full swing every Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the corner of Neil and Main Sts. in the ever hopping, downtown Champaign.

Truly it’s the place to be with healthy food: fruits and veggies, flowers, meats, cheeses, grains, plants, cakes and popsicles! Not only is it healthy, it’s local. Get your grocery on weekly, direct from the farmer.

And it’s fun. There are people walking and talking everywhere. Even furry folk visit the weekly market.

“We enjoy it,” Marissa Barlaz said of the TLC Champaign Market.

She was with her husband, Eitan Barlaz and their doggy, Salem. They said they try to visit weekly.

Nicole Bridges, executive director of Prosperity Gardens will be there at the market with her student staff selling out of the green “real food truck.” PG has partnered with Frances Nelson Health Center, and plans to sell produce from the bus each Wednesday afternoon. PG runs a pay-what-you-can market to connect their customers with local food at a manageable cost.

“You can stuff your bag and take home delicious produce every week,” Bridges said.

Farmer’s market manager, Sarah Simeziane said they have many vendors this year.

“We have our returning farmers and we have some new ones this year, too. We are also happy to announce we have a grant from Link Up Illinois,” Simeziane said.

The farmers from East Place Produce, located right outside of Urbana, are at the market for their second year.

“We actually graduated from The Land Connection’s Farm Beginners Program,” Bobbi Bone said. She was joined at the market by her colleague, Katie Yau.

The Land Connection trains farmers in resilient and restorative farm techniques. They also keep the community in the know about where our food comes from and why that is so important. Thy work to protect and enhance farmland to support the effort of sustainability in farming for future generations. To find out more about The Land Connection, go to their site: or call them at 217-840-2128.


Skip a few days in the week to Friday afternoon and evening. Friday Night Live is the totally happening place to be at the end of a long week. The brain child of 40 North Champaign County Arts Council, this get-out-and-celebrate-summer activity has something for everyone: live music, artists, activities for the kids, and even a few eclectic happenings like belly-dancers. Friday Night Live happens every Friday from June 3 to August 26.

At Home was out with the locals at FNL in mid-June. The whole area was buzzing with activity. Bands were performing on every major street corner. We had the chance to help Bluegrass band, The Young & the Fretless do a sound check. Band members Lyle Konigsberg, Tom Basset, Hilary Valentine and newcomer, Rebecca Grosser performed at the corner of Neil and Park Sts. They had a lively sound and the FNL listeners really enjoyed it.

Couples, families and friends were out enjoying the end of the week downtown. People sat and had drinks, ate an al-fresco meal, or strolled around the area, decked out with flowers, topiaries, lights and laughter.

“We’re just hanging out with the kids,” Diana McClughen said. She was joined by her partner, Scott Werner and her kids, Joel and Janie McClughen, and Joel’s finance, Kristin Stine. “We love coming down here.”

Kelly White, executive director of 40 North/ 88 West said that Friday Night Live has been their fastest growing program.

“We have gotten an overwhelming positive response from everyone involved. The performers get a paid gig and reach a broad audience – they also tell us how much they enjoy the street-side atmosphere where there is a more intimate connection with the crowd. The audiences have loved the vibrancy it brings to downtown and the diverse amount of music that is offered every week. It is super accessible and of course the free kids’ activities are a huge hit with families. Many people have told me that Friday Night Live helps connect them with their community – they run into old friends or meet up with co-workers or neighbors,” White said.

The sponsors have expressed great pride in supporting both the arts and the economic impact of downtown, according to White.

“As the Champaign County Arts Council with the mission of cultivating creativity in this community, 40 North couldn’t be more thrilled with the success of this program. We are directly impacting the artists while also demonstrating the immense vitality that the arts bring to this community,” she said. “People share stories all the time of how when they have visitors in town, they always bring them to FNL to show off the super cool city they call home!”

If you are interested in being a part of the weekly celebration, please contact Kelly White at 217-351-9841, or at All types of performances and collaborations are welcome.