Congress Theater’s sign proudly flashes as it announces who is playing, while the metal beam that cranes the sign up is a reminder that the theater has seen better days. Anyone who has not seen the theater from the inside would be surprised to see that it holds an ornate, grand 1926 interior that has made it a Chicago landmark. In the winter time there is another surprise that the interior of Congress Theater holds: the Logan Square Winter Farmer’s market. On Sunday mornings the Congress Theater’s lobby is a winter oasis with food, wares and activities.
The market itself fills the entryway of the theater with more than 20 vendors and a musical guest or local radio station. Food for purchase includes cheeses, fruits, vegetables, bread, fresh farm eggs and sweets, and as it is winter time, lots of jarred and canned goods. Wares and services include goat milk soap, teas and for the home cook, knife sharpening.
At the market be sure to ask for details about how things are made. The staff or owners always seem more than happy to give suggestions and recipe ideas. For example, River Valley Ranch and Kitchen, located in Burlington, Wisconsin sells portabella, baby bella, white button, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, soups, salsas and tamales.
A sixth generation farmer of Jake’s Country Meats was equally enthusiastic to speak about his products and the family farm tradition that helped to produce it. Jake’s County Meats is located in Cassopolis, Mich. and they sell a myriad of pork products including bacon, jalapeno brats and spare ribs. Their motto is “Pork you can trust” because they raise their animals without antibiotics or animal protein feed. After looking though the meat coolers, Nate Robinson proudly pulled out a photo album to point at his daughter and granddaughter who would carry on the hog farming business for a seventh and eighth generation. Hopefully they do and will carry on the recipe for raspberry chipotle bacon.
Another Michigan farm, Roedger Bros. Blueberries in Covert and South Haven, Mich. grow a sweet winter treat. They flash freeze their blueberries to be used in smoothies, baking or to eat whole and frozen. They advertise that their blueberries will stay good frozen for up to two years and cost $25 for 5 lbs. or $39 for 10 lbs.
In the upcoming winter months the market will also house the Urban Folk Circuit Clothing Swap and Craft-tastic Workshop. This traveling year-round craft market will be at the Logan Square Farmer’s market Jan. 27, Feb. 24 and March 24 during market hours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be wares made by local artists for sale and craft projects that include sewing, screen printing and up-cycled fashion. There is a suggested donation of $10 for individuals and $20 for families, along with a donated bag of clothing for swapping.
The Logan Square Farmer’s Market at Congress Theater is located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., and you can walk there from the Western or California CTA Blue Line stations or by taking the #56 Milwaukee Ave. bus to Francis Place. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through March.