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      Food festival provides fresh produce to Quincy

      An image of tomatoes at the 9th annual Locally Grown Food Fest.

      We all know it's important to eat healthy, but sometimes finding that healthy food is a bit of a chore.

      That's not the case when that food is right out your back door.

      Local farmers dropped by downtown Quincy to share their recently picked produce at the 9th annual Locally Grown Food Fest.

      James Whelan works hard to ensure his customers receive the best product.

      "They come to buy the produce and they know it's locally grown. They know it's good. So they come to buy it from us." Whelan said.

      Whelan hand picks each vegetable on his family's farm in Ursa, Illinois.

      "They don't want to go to the store and buy stuff that might be rotten, Whelan said.

      He brought his latest batch of produce to sell at this farmer's market.

      "There's a lot of people I know that come and they come. They're regulars," Whelan

      Whelan is joined by farmers living in a sixty mile radius outside of Quincy.

      "This is one of our bigger markets. We'll get close to 30, 35 vendors," Historic Quincy Business District Executive Director Travis Brown said.

      Each vendor offers a wide selection of veggies to purchase.

      "Sweet corn is big. Lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers are starting to come into season," Brown said.

      This market even offers local chefs an opportunity to test their cooking skills.

      "We had two different teams this year compete in our chef competition," Travis Brown said.

      "The idea of the competition is just to take what's already here. This great produce and make a really great meal out of it. We had 45 minutes to shop, prep and cook." Laura Sievert, a competitor, said.

      Sievert won this competition using a creative blend of ingredients.

      "I did a sandwich. It was kind of a play on a caprese with a peach, with grilled peaches in it. I did a sweet corn smoked chowder and I did zucchini straws," Sievert said.

      Whelan made big bucks at Saturday's market.

      He will be back next year to sell another fresh harvest of produce.

      His goal is to make sure customers still can find naturally homegrown vegetables.

      "I been doing since when my grandpa...with my grandpa and my mom. So ever since I was about eight. So about 13 years, Whelan said.

      This is the second year in Laura Sievert won this competition.