The Dodge Park Farmers Market is coming back to its pavilion at the park, located by the intersection of Dodge Park Road and Utica Road.

The Dodge Park Farmers Market is coming back to its pavilion at the park, located by the intersection of Dodge Park Road and Utica Road.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Summer Thursdays promise produce, pints and performances

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 24, 2021

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The city of Sterling Heights is inviting the public to enjoy a variety of tastes and sounds on its upcoming Summer Thursdays, thanks to the return of its farmers market, beer patio and concert stage.

The Dodge Park Farmers Market will run 3-8 p.m. Thursdays between June 3 and Sept. 30 this year in Sterling Heights. The farmers market runs at Dodge Park’s large pavilion, near Dodge Park Road and Utica Road.

Organizers are promising a host of vendors who will sell fruits, vegetables and other foods. In past years, the market has sold food as well as crafts and other items. However, last year, the city opened the market in July, later than normal, following coronavirus shutdowns. And even then, the market limited vendors to ones who sold “essential food.”

Sterling Heights Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois said he is looking forward to a more normal farmers market season this year, compared to last year’s abbreviated schedule due to COVID-19.

“Certainly, we’ll be a bit different from last year,” he said. “It’ll be right in the middle of what a normal year looks like and what last year looked like. … Last year, we really had only what was kind of considered to be essential items, only food items. This year, we do have the ability to expand our offerings again.”

Langlois added that this year’s market will have an increased number and selection of vendors. Besides produce, he said, the market’s vendors may offer food or culinary ingredients such as honey, pastas, baked goods and spices. He also expects handmade items such as crafts to make a comeback this year. City officials said food trucks are expected to appear.

Langlois said the city will uphold some COVID-19 safety precautions, such as one-way foot traffic and fencing to prevent people from entering from all directions. Meanwhile, the city is reacting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mid-May guidance that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t have to wear masks outdoors or indoors in most circumstances, unless otherwise required by law or private rules. In a May 14 press release, the state said that under its updated gatherings and mask order, “Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.”

“With the new policy on masks, patrons will not be required to wear masks in order to enter the farmers market this year,” Langlois said.

Thursdays will feature Patios ‘n’ Pints over at the nearby Upton House 5-7 p.m. in tandem with the farmers market. The program is sponsored by the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s president and CEO, Stacy Ziarko, said Patios ‘n’ Pints got a late start in 2020 due to the virus, but this year, things are kicking off earlier. She listed examples of participating beverage-producing businesses: Austin Brothers Beer Co., Perrin Brewing Co., Virtue Cider, Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill, and the Rochester Mills Beer Co.

“We’ll have 18 weeks this year,” she said. “So we have expanded our variety this year with a couple of other Michigan and Michigan-adjacent beers this year. We’re going to do Blake’s a couple times this year because it’s a fan favorite.”

Participants don’t have to register in advance to attend, Ziarko said. She added that the Patios event will have some picnic table seating this year.

“We will have a little more ability for people to sit and relax this year,” she explained.

Besides the resumption of the farmers market and Patios ‘n’ Pints, this will also mark the first time since 2019 that Dodge Park is hosting music acts and concerts as part of Sterling Heights’ Music in the Park summer concert series.

As it was for many musicians, 2020 was an interesting year for Steve Tocco.

Tocco, who plays in four different bands, said the coronavirus caused around 40 of his scheduled shows to be canceled that year. That’s why he is excited to come back to Sterling Heights’ Dodge Park Amphitheatre in August and play alongside his American Ages band.

“It was weird,” he said, “because I’ve been playing for decades, and to go that long without playing was really strange. But having the Sterling Heights concert in the park series again, it’s going to be really great. We’re going to have a great time cutting loose.”

Tocco said he appreciates the city’s willingness to have him return to the stage. He added that Dodge Park and the surrounding City Center area are beautiful, and it’s a nice place for families to hang out, “especially this year, with COVID starting to wane, because people are going to get out and enjoy people’s company.”  

Tocco said American Ages plays a variety of rock and country tunes. He said his band covers music from the 1960s to today.

“We also concentrate a lot on vocals and vocal harmonies. Bass, guitar and drums, and add four voices … it really fattens the sound,” he added. “We call ourselves the little band with a big sound.”

Bands will perform at the Dodge Park Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights. Seating capacity is limited and only for Sterling Heights residents due to COVID-19; residents must register ahead of time by visiting registration.sterling-heights.net.

Dodge Park is located at 40620 Utica Road in Sterling Heights. Learn more by visiting www.myshpr.net or by calling (586) 446-2700.

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