Connie Legris, RCE, Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford Association of REALTORS
The Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford Association of REALTORS® (KIFAR) used an NAR Placemaking Grant to build and design benches for our local Farmer's Market in downtown Kankakee. The Farmer's Market is a wonderful gathering place during the spring, summer and fall, but there was never much seating and folks were not able to sit, relax, chat and interact with their friends and neighbors. And some residents were not even able to come since seating was not available.
Local talent, students and artists, were enlisted to build and paint the benches. KIFAR collaborated with various nonprofit groups in the county to decide on a project, a theme and method for choosing the art which would be displayed on the benches. Partners on the project included the City of Kankakee, Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Community Arts Council of Kankakee County.
With the grant money from NAR, local high school students built 10 benches and local area artists painted the benches with a historical theme. The artists submitted their ideas to a committee who then selected the artists for the project.
The benches were unveiled at our annual Strawberry Festival on June 1, 2014. It was an exciting event, as each artist stood behind their bench and unveiled their art.
KIFAR heard positive comments from the public and one resident said how much more pleasant it was to attend the market because of the benches. Another woman said she was now able to bring her mother to the market who wasn’t able to attend before because she did not have a lot of stamina to stand. The benches now provide a place for her to sit, have a drink and enjoy the sights and sounds of the market.
The benches are not only used for seating at the Farmer's Market every Saturday but they are also borrowed for use as seating at other community events including area festivals and the Bears Training Camp, which is held in Bourbonnais in July.