I personally enjoy rainy days, but I realize that usually is not a shared sentiment. And while I don’t think most farmers market patrons are fans either, I do know that it generally takes more than a little rain to keep them away from the markets. Sunday at the Open Air Farmers Market+ At The Dole was no exception. Some had umbrellas while others just donned some rain gear, and most managed a smile, even if somewhat reluctantly.
As the vendors certainly know, weather happens. Rarely is it a perfect day at the market, from hot and humid to rainy to cold and windy or snowy in the winter, you just roll with it and enjoy that you aren’t alone.
And in McHenry County, we are extremely fortunate to not only have several farmers markets to choose from, both weekdays and weekends, as well as mornings and evenings, but also year-round (Farmers Market Guide).
Far from the oldest farmers market in McHenry County, the Open Air Farmers Market+ At The Dole has quickly established itself as a leader and was voted number one in Illinois on the American Farmland Trust’s rankings.
Address: 401 Country Club Rd, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
We can take extra pride though in McHenry County as both the number one and number two ranked Illinois farmers markets for 2021 were from McHenry County (American Farmland Trust – Top Illinois Markets), with the Woodstock Farmers Market taking up the second spot.
A little overdue, it had been a year or so since we last made it to the farmers market at The Dole. Where did this summer go?! It was great to see how it has continued to grow, pulling in more vendors, and able to pull a lot of people in even on a rainy day.
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While it is very much a farmers market, they also pull in a few artisans. Sadly, nothing like the old art markets The Dole held on the lawn in the past, but you can find some “functional art” pieces for around the home, such as pottery and cutting boards, depending on the vendor line-up. Or check out Creative Arts Inc. to make your own art masterpiece.
Normally, you shouldn’t go shopping on an empty stomach, but in this case, you might be depriving yourself. There are usually at least two or three food options. This time, we opted for Magic Crepes, and can honestly say, even kneeling next to a rain-soaked table while carefully balancing an umbrella in one hand, a camera strapped around my neck, and a plastic fork in the other, the veggie crepe was absolutely fantastic!
Certainly a nod to the music side of The Dole, they always have a band or musician lined up to play. Of course, the real draw for the kids tends to be Ryan from RC Juggle creating fun balloon sculptures or a favorite superhero from Make Believe Professionals.
It’s also one of the few farmers markets that you can stroll around while enjoying a bloody mary, or other adult beverage of your choice. It’s also pet-friendly, so Fido can grab a drink of water at the watering hole while mingling with the other four-legged patrons.
But if you aren’t comfortable around dogs, or children running around swinging balloon lightsabers, you’ll appreciate the open space. If you’ve been around other markets, fairs, and similar events, you understand how “packed in” these kinds of events are, and appreciate how The Dole has avoided cramming everything in.
While this was National Farmers Market Week, you’ll find that the Farmers Market+ At The Dole happens nearly every Sunday, moving indoors for the winter. It is a fun experience, truly embracing the “Market+” of its name. They pull in a number of local McHenry County vendors, as well as a few from outside the county. And like most markets, vendors may shift around from week to week, so there’s always a chance to find something new.
And if you’re a vendor located within McHenry County (or a town that crosses the border), then be sure to claim your Directory listing.