The growing Boxville market on 51st Street. Credit: Boxville/Instagram

WASHINGTON PARK — Boxville, Washington Park’s open-air marketplace, is back for another season and celebrating its five-year anniversary Wednesday with cake, games new vendors and the expansion of its popular fitness program.

Five new box enterprises will be joining the market at 330 E. 51st St. this summer, including Uncle Earl’s Barbecue, Black Plant Lovers, Elevated Subs and Justice Cream, a vegan ice cream shop.

Also new this season is “Cook’s Corner,” three boxes featuring food from local culinary entrepreneurs. Longtime vendor The Work Spot will also host its first “T-Shirt Bar,” where patrons will have a chance to design, order and take home custom t-shirts. Another vendor, Stoviink, will be expanding to a larger box.

“We’re focusing on what has been one of our key strengths: food. Throughout the season we’ll be introducing new box partners who’ll bring some wonderful new products we’ve never had at Boxville,” said Urban Juncture Founder and President Bernard Loyd.

Urban Juncture is the for-profit real estate development arm of Build Bronzeville.

With Boxville’s fitness program, Bronzeville Fit, gaining popularity during the pandemic, the team has expanded it as well, offering yoga, pilates and hula hooping classes on the weekends. They’ve also launched #BoxvilleBodyChallenge, where participants who take 12 fitness classes during the season can earn a special prize.

“Before we started we had just one box. When we launched in 2017, we added four more boxes. Now we’re at 22, and we’ll continue to grow and fill those boxes and add new things as we learn what our neighbors want. It’ll be a season of growth,” said Loyd, adding that more surprises will be in store.

The new season begins 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, with the marketplace opening noon-5 p.m. every other Wednesday through September. Individual merchants may have longer hours and operate year-round. A full list of vendors can be found here.

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