After a year with no downtown market in Moline, Mercado on Fifth is back, with its family-friendly festivities, and a new director is excited to expand the market to downtown Davenport.
Mercado on Fifth in Moline (5 th Avenue in the area of 11 th to 12 th streets) will run 5
p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday, through Sept. 24. The new Mercado in Davenport (Quinlan Court, off River Drive between Brady and Perry streets) will run 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every second Saturday, June through October.
Like other canceled events in 2020, many people missed not having Mercado last year, according to Director Anamaria Rocha, on the job since March.
“A lot of people are anxious for it to return, to get out. I've had a lot of people tell me it is where they get to see their friends. It is such a family environment that it's a great place to take your kids and it's an evening for everyone. So a lot of people definitely do miss it, and I’ve heard a lot of very positive feedback and a lot of excitement going into opening day.”
Rocha says the new Mercado on Fifth will include Covid protocols like masks and social distancing.
“I feel that at this stage, we're all pretty used to going to places and having those things in place, as far as mask requirements, social distancing, trying to congregate with your family, and your family members and people of your household and your friends. So we will be doing pretty much the same thing as everyone else have done as they have been navigating Covid.”
Even though the ranks of fully vaccinated people grow by the day, Mercado is asking people to keep wearing their mask while they move around and they’re free to remove them while seated.
Mercado will maintain the same number of food and other vendors as before, since Illinois is in the Bridge Phase of Covid restrictions, and there's enough space to allow over 1,000 people.
For the first two weeks in Moline, there will be bands that are able to walk around to play for patrons who are seated across the grounds. The band's mobility will prevent large crowds gathering near the stage area.
Mercado is encouraging patrons to bring their own lawn chairs so they can be assured a seat, though some seating will still be provided. Patrons will see signs at entrances asking them to wear marks until eating while seated. There will be sanitizer available at every vendor booth and in other areas across the grounds, and two hand sinks will be available.
Rocha says not having musical entertainment on a fixed stage will help prevent people from congregating in a large group.
“They are able to hold their instruments and circulate throughout the crowd, rather than performing on a stage. So the idea with that is to get people again to not congregate in one area, and to be in front of a stage, so that will help with the social distancing aspect because the musicians will be traveling throughout and they can just stay put in your area and to experience and enjoy them a lot closer to you, at an eye level.”
The new Mercado in downtown Davenport will start Saturday, June 12, and be held on the second Saturday each month at Quinlan Court, in partnership with the Riverfront Improvement Commission.
“It is a great opportunity for us. Quinlan Court is newly constructed. We will be the first organization to utilize the space. The layout is ideally set up for similar events, so we are very excited about that. There's already electricity, there's LED lighting. There's seating built into the planters throughout the space and you get a river view. So it's a nice spot for us to do an extension of Mercado.”
They didn’t want to start weekly in Davenport, but to launch first and see how it’s received by the public. They may expand to more often in future years.
“There's a lot of people that go, but the Quad-Cities are so large that I feel that there is still a large population that isn’t familiar with Mercado and will potentially get exposed to it in Davenport.”
Rocha says there will be some overlap in vendors between the two locations, but there will be some exclusive to each.
“The feedback in assisting people is very rewarding. It's fulfilling to know that you're able to contribute to someone’s dreams. And the excitement even just of the entertainment, bringing something new of a band that hasn’t been in the Quad-Cities, to know that excitement too, hearing that feedback, that's also very rewarding, because I get to be a part of an event that has so many different components. It means something different for everyone, I feel like.”
For more information, visit mercadoonfifth.org.