Community discussions about the new market for West Ridge should include family- and senior-friendly activities. There are many ways to engage and involve a cross-section of the community and to ensure that the market has broad appeal. Even better, there are many West Ridge residents who have experience at creating fairs, carnivals, festivals and other activities. Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable as the community begins the process of creating a new market.
Last night I spoke with a neighbor who has created festivals for his synagogue, and he enthusiastically offered a host of possibilities for family-friendly activities, briefly sharing his experiences in creating such events. Among his suggestions were rides and bounce houses. He also has experience at obtaining corporate sponsorships for these events–a real asset that would be invaluable in planning the new market’s activities.
Let’s not forget the neighborhood’s seniors, who enjoy active participation in community events as much as everyone else.
The new market should have at least two seating areas, one for people who’d like to enjoy their food at the market, and one so audience members can enjoy the talent performances.
Music should be loud enough to be heard but not so loud that it becomes noise. Sound levels can damage young and older ears alike, so decibel levels should be controlled.
Food offerings should include both kosher and halal foods. We do have a variety of ethnic restaurants throughout the ward offering Afghani, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Mexican, and Pakistani and other foods as well as burger, BBQ, and pizza places that should be represented. Local bakeries offer many Middle Eastern, Jewish, and Russian specialties. Personally, I think we should offer places at the market to our local businesses first.
A successful market takes a lot of planning. I recently attended the two-hour training offered by DCASE for those interested in starting a community market. Known as Chicago Farmers Market Technical Workshops, the sessions are led by Yescenia Mota, who heads the neighborhood farmers markets program. Two more training sessions are scheduled, for October 9 and October 16, both at 1 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center. To register, click here.