A Taste of Summer: Fresh Fun at the Rochelle Farmers Market

A quiet neighborhood might not be your first guess for this market’s backdrop, but it sure does attract a thriving crowd every summer. The selection of local produce and other surprises helps, too.

From a few booths at a flower shop to nearly 30 vendors on a quiet neighborhood street, the Rochelle Farmers Market continues to grow as it attracts people from Ogle County and beyond.

A trip to the popular Rochelle Farmers Market, at 718 10th Ave., is the ultimate community scene for fresh food and pure shopping bliss.

It’s the place to be in this quaint town for a variety of fresh outdoor Saturday markets. Every Saturday from June through August, the Cypress House Flower Shop hosts a market on the lawn from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cypress House owners Krista Stewart and Elke Drendel, along with Emily Millard, are behind the organization, management and growth of this fresh market that began with literally a handful of local artists in 2012.

“At the beginning, we held the markets on the lawn right in front of our shop,” says Stewart. “Today, we close the entire block down and now host over 30 vendors.”

Shoppers find art, jewelry, woodworking, local produce, flowers, soap, Hilliker’s farm-fresh eggs, lemon shakeups and dog treats. They’re also tempted by fresh juices, bread, baked goods, sauerkraut, handmade noodles, popsicles, barbecue treats, honey and colorful textiles.

“We’re proud to note that all of these items are handmade or homegrown with a few exceptions, making them even more special,” says Stewart.

Local musician Neal Woolbright sets the tone for a happy family-friendly time that attracts multiple generations who attend together.

Stewart notes that many of the vendors began their own businesses right at the outdoor markets.
“It’s been so exciting to see their businesses grow and become successful over the years,” she says.

Stewart and Drendel purchased Cypress House 17 years ago, but the shop has served the area for more than 140 years. The pair have added a boutique, espresso bar and home decor items to the shop nestled in a residential neighborhood in Rochelle. It’s filled to the brim with character and nostalgia. Saturdays are busy inside and outside the shop.

“We have two booths located next to one another,” Stewart says. “We offer fresh-squeezed lemon shakeups, along with our housemade cold brew coffee. Our booth next door is run by mom, Ann, and my Aunt Debbie. You’ll find a wide variety of our market bouquets, eucalyptus bundles, wrapped flowers, Jen’s Artisan Bread, Mighty Vine Tomatoes, Behmer Farms Produce and Luxton Green Beans, when in season.”

The Rochelle Farmers Market always offers something new. Last year a holiday bow bar was introduced.

“Customers had the option of selecting from a variety of ribbons and, while they shopped, we made decorative bows for outdoor holiday decorating,” says Stewart. “This was a huge success and we’ll be bringing it back for 2023.”

New vendors at this year’s market include gourmet mushrooms from Meddling Sheep Mushrooms and a new grassroots business, CheeseKake Ko. Interactive activities for the kids can be found at the Flagg Rochelle Public Library while families browse vendors from as far as Chicago and Wisconsin.

“It’s good to get here early as many of our vendors sell out of their wares pretty fast,” Stewart says.