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3 French Hens market has record number of visitors

MORRIS – The first time was the charm for Kathy Lombardi of Custer Park.

Lombardi, working from her Old Vintage Shoppe booth, was impressed with her surroundings during her debut as a vendor at the 3 French Hens French Country Market on Saturday in Morris.

“I love it,” said Lombardi, the owner of the Wilmington-based shop. “There’s a lot of people. ... Beautiful day, great setup, perfect food. ... Wonderful.”

She may not have realized it at the time, but Lombardi was witnessing a record-setting crowd at the event, now in its sixth season. Monica Spence-Vogel, a 3 French Hens organizer along with with Traci Tessone, estimated the attendance at 5,000.

Spence-Vogel noted the market had 120 vendors, which falls about 10 short of the average. She explained that some were on vacation, however.

“Today is super busy,” Tessone observed. “I think people were really excited because the last time it rained. A lot of people didn’t make it out [for the last one], but surprisingly our vendors did really well even though it rained. It looks like shoppers are buying [today], and the vendors are happy.”

Caroline Norrington, owner of Paperjack Studio, was among the happy vendors.

“I like it,” said Norrington, who repurposes furniture at her store in Gardner. “It’s a very good market ... and it has really grown.”

“It’s awesome,” said Carolyn Buchmiller, who runs The Name in Pictures of Montgomery. She explained that she does two or three markets a month, and typically every weekend during the holidays.

Kelly Desmond, who was vending for her Geneva business, Desmond Brown Design, estimates she is in about 40 shows a year.

“I love it,” she said, of the local market. “And I’ve made friends with vendors. It’s fun. It’s one of the more fun markets I do.”

Deb Sanders, who was busy selling her items from Fairytopiacreations, reflected on how big the market has grown. Sanders of Morris, said she has done other shows, but she has eased up on that because she also sells in stores.

“But I will continue to do this market because it’s such a good one,” she said.

Also featured was a fundraising campaign called the Chicago Submarine Memorial Fund. The idea is to build a memorial in Chicago for 28 submarines that were built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and used during World War II. The submarines sailed in the area through the Illinois River, the workers pointed out.

Market co-organizer Spence-Vogel is in the process of moving to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, with her husband, Jeff, but she won’t be missing the markets. She will be opening a shop there called Bleu, but plans on making the monthly excursion to Morris for the market.

Her and Tessone already are busy working on the next markets, and an additional event Oct. 10 – a Farm to Table Dinner, which will raise money for a sensory garden for Special Connections of Grundy County.

“It was a gorgeous day,” Spence-Vogel said. “There are so many people who come from out of town, and they love our little city.”

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