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Sep 22, 2016 02:25PM

Mercado on Fifth opens to good turnout

By Gerold Shelton, gshelton@qconline.com
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Meg McLaughlin/mmclaughlin@qconline.com
Mercado on Fifth, a Mexican open-air market, is planned 5-8 p.m. on Fridays through Oct. 28 in the area of 12th Street and 5th Avenue in Moline.
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Bob Ontiveros was all smiles as he walked down 5th Avenue, having finally realized a dream come true.

Mercado on Fifth might be described on paper as a Mexican open-air market, but the sights and sounds on its opening evening back in August suggested more of a racially diverse block party.

Children were getting their faces painted. Customers lined up in front of Streets of Italy for a personal pizza. The University of Illinois Extension was handing out recipes and nutrition information. Visitors looked over the sculptures at Driftwood Dreams Art and Sculpture. R's Honey from Hampton was selling raw honey out of small bear-shaped bottles. All while the Crooked Cactus Band was setting up for a concert later.

Ontiveros says he wanted to bring a community event to an area of the city he helped redevelop over the years. The founder of Group O, a marketing services company in Milan, retired from the business 10 years ago and says he decided he needed something to do. He started working with the city on redeveloping a worn down section of town.

"I am not a professional developer, I'm a social developer, and this is the result," Ontiveros says. "This just really turned out to be a great thing, and it's only going to grow. We are hoping to build on this; this is just a start. A very good start."

He says he will review how this year's market goes to determine what changes might happen down the road.

Charles Cervantes, of Silvis, says he thinks this event will help out this part of town. He says he was impressed with the wide range of vendors.

"This will bring in folks of all communities," Cervantes says. "I know they wanted to hold this event for a long time, and there has been a great turnout."

Juanita Zertuche, of East Moline, was handing out flyers for the League of United Latin American Citizens. She says this was a positive community event for both businesses and the youth.

"I think this venue will give (businesses) that opportunity to show what businesses are here and allow them to thrive," Zertuche says. "I would like for the youth to see what a bright future they have ahead of them with all of this going on in their neighborhood."

Lawrence Weatherly, of Rock Island, works down the street at the Project of the Quad Cities. He says he saw something going on and decided to walk down to check it out.

"They have good vendors here," Weatherly says. "I think I'm going to leave and come back for the band later."

The fun continues at 5th Avenue and 12th Street weekly through Oct. 28 on Friday evenings at 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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