Saturday is going to be a very busy day along the banks of the historical I & M Canal.
As is the case each second Saturday of summer in Morris, throngs of shoppers are expected to descend upon Canal Port Park in search of one-of-a-kind repurposed finds, antiques, artisans, jewelry designers, fresh-from-the-vine produce, home-baked sweets, artisan cheeses, farm-raised chicken and pork.
All are part of the 3 French Hens French Country Market, which is winding down its fifth, and biggest, season. Held the second Saturday, May through October, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the market was chosen by Romantic Homes and Flea Market Style magazines as one of the top five in the nation.
This Saturday’s selection won’t disappoint, with many vendors selling fall decor, fresh-picked pumpkins and Halloween items. An additional vendor row has been added to the far west end of Canal Port Park to accommodate the growing number of sellers.
Several nonprofit groups, including the Grundy County Historical Society and R.E.A.C.H, will be in the park Saturday. Volunteers from R.E.A.C.H. will be selling 50/50 raffle tickets as a prelude to the drawing later that evening on their behalf at the Morris Cruise Night in downtown Morris.
The monthly display of vintage cars and other classic vehicles runs from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout the city’s business district.
As the market ends at 2 p.m., the Hens will be joined by board members from Special Connections and community volunteers in setting up the first-ever Farm to Table Dinner.
This event is by reservation only, and remaining seats are limited.
Putting an emphasis on the farmer and fresh-to-the-table food, all ingredients will be provided by market vendors or local growers. An overwhelming amount of fresh produce, herbs, gourmet olive and grape seed oils, farm-raised pork and chicken and hen-fresh eggs has been donated to the dinner.
Chef Brandon Harness, along with owners Dianne and Scott Breslar of Chapin’s Restaurant, have come up with the wonderful menu, which includes chilled melon soup, gourmet deviled eggs, vine-fresh cucumber and heirloom tomato salad, roasted marinated loin of pork, grilled chicken, a baked zucchini tomato gratin and fresh peach compote.
Proceeds from this special meal will be Special Connections for its quest to create a sensory garden at Canal Port Park.
Judee Hansen and her team of talented landscape designers have come up with a wonderful garden incorporating picnic areas, water features, touching gardens and handicapped accessible paths.
The designers will be on hand at Saturday’s dinner to share their vision, and discuss sponsorship and donation opportunities.