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Fruits, veggies and maybe wine? Bloomington council to vote on farmers market liquor licenses

Virginia Star
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Getty Images
On Monday, the Bloomington City Council will consider adding a new “farmer’s market” class of liquor licenses. The rule change would allow both packaged liquor sales and booth tastings.

Shoppers at this summer’s downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market may find wine and beer tastings at some booths, if a proposed change to liquor licenses is approved next week.

If the rules change, customers also might see vendor-produced packaged liquor.

On Monday, the Bloomington City Council will consider adding a new “farmer’s market” class of liquor licenses. The rule change would allow both packaged liquor sales and booth tastings.

Vendor-produced packaged alcohol is becoming more common at farmers markets across the country, said Hannah Horn, manager for the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market.

A specialist in artisan grains reached out to city staff, inquiring about how to sell his alcohol at the Bloomington summer staple, she said.

So, in February, city staff asked the city clerk to look into the creation of the new license classification, and on April 24, the city’s liquor commission recommended the council adopt the change.

As proposed, a farmer’s market liquor license holder could sell alcohol in its original packaging for off-premises consumption. Those booths also could offer tastings of their products, after 9 a.m.

Customer buying produce at farmers' market
Emily Bollinger
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WGLT
The popular community event is 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May through October. An indoor version meets off-season. That’s 9 a.m. to noon, November through April, in Grossinger Motors Arena.

Those would be limited to a 2-ounce serving of beer; 1-ounce for wine; and ½ ounce for spirits, according to council materials.

None of this would be happening at this Saturday’s outdoor kickoff on the historic downtown square.

It all depends on how the council votes. If the proposal is OK'd shoppers could see the change as early as June.

"Everything is tentative, of course," said Horn.

If the council OK's the new liquor license class, vendors carrying alcohol would go through the same application process as everyone else who gains a spot at the market, she said.

The Bloomington market's items are grown and produced by the booth operators. Among its offerings are vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats and eggs, plants and arts.

The popular community event is 7:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays, May through October. An indoor version meets off-season. That’s 9 a.m. to noon, November through April, in Grossinger Motors Arena.

Also at Monday’s meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the downtown Government Center, the council will vote on decisions affecting more than $5 million in city spending:

  • Amending its fiscal 2024 budget, so that the city can use $3.5 million in funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act. The council already has approved using the funds for several grant programs. Nearly $1.5 million will provide small business grants; and about $1 million each is being set aside for nonprofit grants, and affordable housing grants.
  • Spending $1 million on a project to bring a modernized water meter reading system to Bloomington. 
  • Repurposing nearly $578,000 of its capital project budget, for a renovation of the downtown Government Center's second and third floors. The space is used by the city’s economic and community development department. 

Michele Steinbacher was a WGLT correspondent, joining the staff in 2020. She left the station in 2024.