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Kenosha HarborMarket®: 20 Years Later

The Kenosha HarborMarket®, the city’s original European-style outdoor shopping and entertainment experience, is celebrating it’s 20th year exhibiting the same wonderful aspects which has made it a continued success— including a large number and wide array of vendors offering fresh produce, ready-to-eat foods, and a cornucopia of arts and crafts.

Each Saturday, from 9am – 2pm, Kenoshans and visitors from all over the world can shop over 100 vendor booths and find the diverse array of local products they’ve come to expect from Kenosha HarborMarket® vendors. They can fill  their bags – one is never enough! — with fresh and local produce, meat, poultry, cheese, flower bouquets and plants, baked goods, pantry staples, soaps, arts and crafts and more. Treat your taste buds to delicious foods and beverages from over a dozen unique prepared food vendors. Thousands of people enjoy the sounds of an eclectic mix of local musicians performing on two stages every week.

 

 

The market, voted Best Event in Kenosha last year, and is in the running again this year, is located at its traditional location: on 2nd Avenue and Place de Douai, just west of the lakefront museums.

It’s more than just a shopper’s paradise – it’s fun for the whole family. Families come down to Second Avenue to enjoy the scenery, with abundant green space, shade trees and Lake Michigan a stones throw away.  While in the neighborhood, make a day of it and pay a visit to the Kenosha Public Museum and take a ride on the streetcar.

Also on-site are fun activities and community resources for all ages, including the Kenosha Public Library Bookmobile, Pedal Tours and local dance and dramatic arts groups demonstrating their talents. HarborMarket is also honored to provide free booth space to up to two local nonprofits every week.

In keeping with its community-minded mission, last year Kenosha HarborMarket® facilitated the spending of over $16,000 by SNAP beneficiaries on local produce, meats, eggs, cheeses and other foods. This year, more than 35 vendors are participating in the program. HarborMarket ® will continue to match up to $20 per beneficiary per week.

“HarborMarket continues to be a team effort, with each of us leaning into our strengths, and learning in the process. It’s more of a responsibility that I feel to continue to deliver HarborMarket as the original, award-winning, small business incubator and customer-favorite outdoor market event every week.” – Andrea Forgianni, Executive Director, Kenosha HarborMarket®

Q. What can people expect each week at the Kenosha HarborMarket®?
A. People can continue to expect a diverse array of vendors including local produce, prepared foods, pantry staples, arts and crafts, on-site services and live entertainment.We have over 150 vendors over the course of the season and completely fill up Second Ave, from 54th St to 56th St, as well as the adjacent Place de Douai. New vendors apply throughout theseason and we usually have a new one or two every Saturday that customers can discover.Shoppers can enjoy a fabulous selection of local foods and artisan creations, grab a bite to eat and a beverage, enjoy the live music and other entertainment and just sit back and relax. HarborMarket® was designed to be an immersive experience, with wonderful things to see, hear, taste and do. Our environment, nestled within green space with shade trees and surrounded by the Lake, is an idyllic setting, perfect for just enjoying a beautiful day on the shores of Lake Michigan.


Q. From your point of view what makes the Kenosha HarborMarket® so successful year after year?A few things come to mind. One is our 20 year long reputation for delivering a second to one (and award winning) experience that grows, evoloves and improves to meet the community’s needs. Our staff and volunteer board pour their hearts, time and talents into the success of the over 150 small businesses and nonprofits we are serving in 2023. Their success is our success, and we are honored to help them achieve that.
It’s humbling and fulfilling to watch businesses, established and new, find joy and success in doing what they love. I actually do stop sometimes, soaking in what the vendors say about record sales, being so busy they didn’t have the opportunity to eat or sit down and their experience exceeding expectations. Witnessing customers offer unsolicited, sincere thanks when they happen upon HarborMarket’s® information booth on 2nd Ave is a reward to our staff and our volunteer Board. We love what we do, and appreciate the opportunity to continue to do so.
Q. What makes the Kenosha HarborMarket® stand out from other events/activities in the area?
Kenosha HarborMarket®, with its second to none setting and vendor lineup,  is truly an event to savor and enjoy. Yes, customers come up from Chicago and down from Milwaukee to shop. And then they stay to enjoy the delicious prepared foods and beverages at tables while listening to local musicians (on two stages) perform. There are activities for the kids with the Kenosha Public Library Bookmobile every week as well as health clinics during the season. The setting is nestled within green space, lush flowers and beautiful trees.  That environment, where people can relax and enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes and smells within a casual, relaxed and beautiful setting, continues to draw more and more customers to Second Avenue every summer Saturday. We as an organization have been evolving, and will continue to do so, to best meet the needs of our community; we exist for and because of the community, businesses and people whom we serve. Our reputation as the pioneer and leader in the region when it comes to both European-style outdoor and year-round markets continues to expand as we (meaning our board members who volunteer their time, vendors and customers) grow and evolve.

Q. How do vendors/ entrepreneurs get involved with the market?
A. Anyone interested in becoming a HarborMarket® vendor is invited to visit our website, kenoshaharbormarket.com or racine harbormarket.com. The same application is available on both sites. There is a lot of information on vendor types and rules involved with vending, as well as the application itself. We have a committee that reviews all applications that are submitted.
Q. The HarborMarket® is a non 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, can you explain what that is?
A.  A 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization is one that has been approved by the IRS as being a charitable organization that is exempt from income tax. Basically, we exist to contribute to the betterment of the community and don’t have owners. Our goal as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization boils down to providing services that improve the community and the lives of the people within it. We seek to support small business owners as they establish and grow their businesses, provide an event-experience that enriches the lives of community members and help support fellow nonprofits as they also work to improve the community.

Q. This is your second year as Executive Director of the HarborMarket® – how has the experience been so far?
Well, the first year was more challenging than the second year has been so far. That first year, there was a pretty big learning curve. This year I feel more settled into the role. But I’m not one to rest on my laurels, so we continue to expand both the size of the Kenosha HarborMarket®, the quality of the experience, and increase the reach of our organization as a whole by starting the Racine HarborMarket®. Both events serve their respective communities, promote local small businesses, facilitate direct interaction between customers and producers and provide an overall fabulous experience. Witnessing that is fulfilling beyond words.
Q. The HarborMarket® continues to be a huge success and you should be very proud with all the hard work, effort, time, and love you’ve put into it. How do you balance it all?
A. Thank you! It’s definitely a team effort to put together an event  that draws up to 10,000 customers and 135 vendor booths every week. Our Board leadership donate their time and talents to the mission of our organization and the success of the businesses we serve. HarborMarket’s® staff works tirelessly on Saturdays (and Thursdays in Racine) to facilitate each event.

As a working parent of small children, it’s a daily juggling act. For sure, some days are easier than others, but my husband and my Mom are both extremely supportive. My Mom continues to watch my kids, and assisted with virtual learning this past school year. Her energy is seemingly endless, and inspirational. This past June my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary; his patience regarding and understanding of the demands of my work continues to astound me. And my kids are always able to remind me of what is really important every day.

The Kenosha HarborMarket® is every Saturday thru October 29th • 9AM-2Pm
located just west of the Kenosha Public Museum, 2nd Ave. & 56th St. & Place de Douai
Follow them on Facebook Click here
Kenoshaharbormarket.com

Q&A and photos by Donny Stancato
Other photos by Harley Becker,and Andrea Forgianni – Kenosha Common Markets, IncQ&A with Andrea Forgianni of Kenosha HarborMarket®

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