Folks, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is behind us, the air is turning chilly and Christmas is fast approaching, which means that this year’s Holiday Market season is in full swing. For those who are new to town or those who simply have not had a chance to explore Champaign-Urbana, the Urbana Business Association’s annual Holiday Market is a charming, must-visit local event.

Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting mid-November and continuing until the weekend before Christmas, Urbana’s Lincoln Square complex is transformed into a bustling, holiday-themed bazaar full of vendor booths featuring an array of goodies including but not limited to farm fresh organic produce, artisan meats and cheeses, excessive amounts of sweets and baked goods, handmade crafts, home and bath products and much more.

Compared to previous years’ markets, this year’s Holiday Market is much bigger. Events Coordinator Jessica Snyder, now in her third year running the market, stated that the 2015 season has seen a definite increase in the number of participating vendors. With more than 60 different stalls featuring businesses from all across Illinois, the Holiday Market is in need of a waiting list, rendering the halls of Lincoln Square completely packed every Saturday morning. More importantly, the increase in vendors translates to a wider variety of locally supplied goods, which means that there is likely something to suit everybody’s tastes at this year’s Holiday Market.

If you are in search of fresh, locally grown produce, look no further. Stalls featuring Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous Farm, Triple S Farm and Champaign’s own Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be offering an abundance of cold-weather produce. Snyder states that seasonal vegetables include cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, acorn squash, spaghetti squash and butternut squash. Additionally, healthful, leafy greens and root vegetables including kale, Brussel sprouts, rutabagas, parsnips and celery root will all be available as well. Of course, the market will also offer pantry staples, such as fresh onions, potatoes, garlic and herbs.
With such a vast selection of products for holiday shoppers to peruse, it’s easy to be overwhelmed.

To help provide a starting point, Snyder highlighted a couple of new and unique vendors at this year’s Holiday Market. For those with a sweet tooth, Urbana’s Hopscotch Cakes & Confections is absolutely perfect. Hopscotch offers a variety of special order cakes and pies in addition to their holiday gift packages, which feature an array of delectable treats such as gourmet “fluffy puff” marshmallows and signature salted caramel sauce. If, however, you would like to choose from a selection of red and white wines, Sleepy Creek Vineyard from Fairmount is a popular option.

The Holiday Market will also feature goods from several C-U favorites, including goat cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery as well as freshly baked breads from Pekara Bakery.

One final feature of the 2015 Holiday Market is the Urbana Business Association’s weekly “Market Recipe” videos, which feature tasty, easy-to-make dishes that utilize ingredients that shoppers can find at the upcoming Saturday market. Past recipes include goat cheese fondue, spaghetti squash with brown sugar and bacon wrapped Brussel sprouts. The current recipe for this weekend’s market is a classic French onion soup.

To view videos and learn more about participating vendors, please visit the Holiday Market’s Facebook page and website at www.urbanabusiness.com.

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