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City Market crowds grow with no limits

Illinois enters phase 5; all restrictions at City Market are lifted
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:36 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As Illinois re-opened today, Rockford City Market lifted its limits on crowds. People flooded to downtown Rockford to take advantage of the state wide freedom.

“I feel free as a bird,” said Regina Hood. She visited City Market with her family, and said people should take advantage of the mobile vaccine clinic.

“We would like for you guys to come out and enjoy the City Market with us, and you can also come out and be vaccinated at the same time,” said Hood.

She was among the hundreds of people who danced through the heat and cooled off with a cold drink. Customers told me there was nothing but good vibes.

“I like the atmosphere. I’ve never been here before, so seeing all the vendors and the happy people walking around makes everything feel good around here,” said Nicole Stamper.

Vendors at the market told me while the turn out has been great already this season, they’re looking forward to seeing even more people. Judy Johnson of Quixotic Bakery says the community support has been overwhelming through the pandemic. She thinks it will only get better as the guidelines recede.

“If people don’t show up tonight it’s because of the heat. I don’t think the virus is keeping people away anymore,” said Johnson. “I think there may still be some that are leery to come up but I think we’re pretty much back to normal.”

Other small business owners like Melissa Breen of Zachi Chocolates say markets like this help keep them afloat. She said last year her business struggled to get through the pandemic, but she’s lucky to be one of the businesses that made it through.

“It’s very important for us that the community comes and feels safe, and visits us and supports all of us,” said Breen.

She said she’s glad more people will be more comfortable with coming out to the market.

City Market organizer Cathy McDermott said there is more than twice the vendors at the market this year than last year, and several of them are new. While social distancing between booths is not required in phase 5, she said the spaced out layout will likely stay the same through the end of the season.

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