‘Happy we have it’ says vendor as Sycamore Farmers Market season starts

Kelli Huggins, from Sycamore, buys a hanging basket at the Shady Tree Farm Market tent Tuesday, June 6, 2023, at the Sycamore Farmers’ Market, on the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore residents Justine Blundell, 34, and her husband Andrew Blundell, 37, perused vendors strewn about the DeKalb County Courthouse lawn Tuesday for the kick off of the Sycamore Farmers Market.

Artisanal vendors of all kinds set up shop for the first day of the market’s 2023 season, expected to ramp up throughout the summer. The market runs from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday through August.

The Blundells said though the market Tuesday appeared “dwindled down” from years past, it was still a good draw.

A Sycamore Chamber of Commerce official said a handful of vendors had to back out ahead of the first day, but the market is expected to have more vendors as fresh produce comes into season.

Regardless of the size of the market, the Blundells said they wanted to come support local businesses.

One of their favorites is Bylers Amish Delights, a company selling fresh baked pies, bread and cinnamon rolls with Amish recipes.

“The pies are delicious, I highly recommend them. They’re great people as well – that’s definitely something I would continue to get. And then we were really happy to see Slow Smoke BBQ here because we never get a chance to eat there,” Justine Blundell said.

I just love coming out here, the first day is always good – customers show up, they’re happy to see us – and the weather is perfect, so I’m happy.”

—  Carrie Aldrich, Sycamore resident

Mary Byler-Conlee started Bylers Amish Delights in 2022 and also sells her products in local Walmarts, her husband Mike Conlee, of Kirkland, said.

“We’re doing really well. We’re selling at Walmart as well. We’re getting into the retail space. She started the business not even a year ago – July would be our first anniversary – so we’ve grown,” Mike Conlee, 38, said.

Though the company has expanded to retail stores, Mike Conlee said markets like the Sycamore Farmers Market allows them to hear directly from their consumers.

“If we would have just jumped right into retail, you’re not going to get that customer feedback,” Mike Conlee said. “So to navigate through the product, just the appearance of it, to the taste of the product, you know what I’m saying? You’re not going to get that instant feedback – where our customers who come here are here every week.”

The Conlees aren’t the only vendors relatively new to the farmers’ market scene. Grant Goken, 21, of Sycamore, expanded his business this year with a new trailer.

After selling coffee out of a tent from the Sycamore Farmer’s Market in 2022, Goken retrofitted a trailer with his dad’s help to level up his business, Battle Axe Coffee. Goken said he plans on parking his trailer in Sycamore a handful of times each month, with a focus on the Sycamore Farmers Market.

Carrie Aldrich, 43, of Sycamore has been running Vuur Lont Candle Co. for three years and has been vending at the Sycamore Farmers Market since 2022.

Aldrich, along with help from her husband, sells candles, fragrance sprays and fragrance tins. The Candles are 100% soy wax – a natural, clean burning wax. All of the scents used to create the candles are phthalate-free – from the materials used in plastics – and blended with essential oils.

Northwoods is the company’s most popular scent and it’s made to smell like Aldrich’s childhood summer vacations.

“I went on summer vacation when I was a kid and that’s what I smelled every morning when I woke up,” Aldrich said. “I want that to be the something that person thinks of when they smell that candle. So our glacier bay candle is made to smell like Glacier National Park, that my parent’s visited, so everything is built on a memory.”

Despite a perceived small turn out for the first day of the market, Aldrich said she thinks the first day of the market was a good one.

“It’s a couple less vendors unfortunately than we wanted, it just was conflict of schedule, but I know next week is going to be super busy,” Aldrich said. “But I just love coming out here, the first day is always good – customers show up, they’re happy to see us – and the weather is perfect, so I’m happy.”

Justine Blundell reflected on the market’s turnout through a similar lens.

“Honestly I’m just happy that we have it, just the fact that these people are out here, they’re trying to get their name out there and it’s a good location, I mean it’s right here at the courthouse, it gets people out,” Justine Blundell said.

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