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French Market in Western Springs Enters Harvest Push

The weekly market has maintained its vendor base and is pushing for a strong finish to the season after a back-to-school lull.

It’s harvest season at the Western Springs French Market, and organizers are making a push to bring out a strong crowd for the Market’s final three appearances for 2012 (Oct. 11, 18 and 25).

September is frequently a “lull” season for the market with back-to-school, but the Halloween lead-in often offers a business pick-up that Market operators Bensidoun U.S.A. is hoping to foster as much as possible.

“A lot of towns, from summer to fall, sometimes there’s some slack,” said Western Springs Market supervisor Paula Gleason. “We want to pick it up again and finish out the season. We don’t want to lose our vendors… We need people to remember to come out and patronize.”

While plenty of the Market’s offerings remain identical to those from summer, the harvest season has brought in a fresh crop of autumn produce, and a few new offerings, like a popular chili.

On Thursday, vendor Orland Fasel had a large selection of pumpkins and gourds in an assortment of shapes, sizes and colors, which he said offered more decorating appeal than the classic jack-o’-lantern (though he certainly had pumpkins ready for those, too.)

“The more unusual, the better,” Fasel said. “Regular orange pumpkins are a dime a dozen. Kids like to carve these for Halloween; people like to put a grouping of three or four together, different colors, different shapes.”

Chicagoland outdoor markets in 2012 have come under increasing scrutiny over fears of oversaturation, perhaps with no better example than the failure and cancellation of La Grange Park’s Farmer’s Market. But Gleason said the Western Springs French Market is doing just fine.

“We feel we have an edge because we are a business,” Gleason said. “We charge [vendors] to be here, and we probably charge more than a regular farmer’s market. But we do that because we inflict strong guidelines… It’s run like a business, and customers can rely on that.

“After a while, customers realize these are the markets to come to.”

The Western Springs French Market lines Hillgrove Avenue in front of Tower Green in Western Springs every Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. through Oct. 25.

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