Mundelein Farmers Market gets new leader
Jo Ann Bednar, who was hired in January as the new farmers market manager, is the first paid manager to organize the event. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 8, 2013 9:20AM
MUNDELEIN — The Mundelein Farmers Market’s popularity has grown so fast that the job organizing the event was recently made a paid position.
Former event manager Laurie Murphy stepped down because the 800 hours the job required last year began to conflict with other obligations.
Mundelein resident Jo Ann Bednar has been named the new manager, and she will be paid a $200 weekly stipend. Now organizing the 2013 event, Bednar said the market is already ahead of schedule.
“Half of last year’s 28 vendors have already secured spots for this year,” Bednar said. “That’s huge for this being January and the market opening in June. Most places struggle up to the last minute to get commitments.”
Bednar brings a background in marketing, communications and small business. She moved to Mundelein about three years ago after living in Lake Bluff for 18 years.
She also sold gourmet coffee products at the Lake Bluff farmers market.
The village’s December newsletter, which mentioned the farmers markets, caught Bednar’s eye. She Bednar started planning for the June market shortly after her first interview.
“We were definitely on the same page,” Bednar said. “This farmers market is not small, but it still has room to grow.”
Bednar said she has already visited nearby winter markets to approach potential vendors. She’s also in regular contact with past vendors.
After receiving feedback, Bednar plans to work in a seating area where patrons can eat lunch and socialize.
“That way people can make a day out of coming to the market,” Bednar said. “With music, good food and sunshine, we can offer an experience.”
Local bands are encouraged to contact the farmers market about playing music near the eating area. Bednar said high school bands would be ideal as it would also build community involvement.
A good chunk of the 30 weekly volunteers are already Carmel High School students, Bednar noted, mentioning the school’s community service requirement.
“It’s great having youth at the market to help out and learn about buying locally,” Bednar said. “We’re always in need of volunteers, though, so I hope they tell their friends.”
Bednar also hopes to add weekly food demonstrations so visitors can learn how to prepare a dish.
The market has already attracted a lead financial sponsor for the 2013 series as well, Bednar reported, announcing a partnership with Advocate Condell Medical Center.
Some sponsors have paid to be mentioned in announcements or listed on programs, she explained, while others pay for banners and logo placements.
Locking in sponsors was important because the Village Board expressed financial concerns when it approved the Mundelein Community Connection’s $30,000 grant last month to run the series of community events.
The Mundelein Community Connection is a separate corporate entity that also is responsible for park on park, the beer festival, Santa’s cottage, an art fair and other community events.
Trustee Terri Voss was the most vocal with concerns.
“I agree that MCC is a great organization, but I thought it would be an independent organization by now,” Voss said. “I look at it as a parent looks at a child. I’m disappointed. They’re not only still coming to us for money but they want more for a market manager.”
Terry Skriba, executive director of Mundelein Community Connection, told Voss that the expense will foster greater revenue.
Other trustees had similar concerns but ultimately voted in favor of the funding.