Jazz in June will center around different musical acts throughout the month of June, but the sweet and salty smells of the different vendors can just as easily steal the show.
Linda Hubka, the market manager for Jazz in June, has curated the festival’s food vendors for nearly two decades. Hubka originally worked for an ambulance company in Lincoln, which was taken over by the fire department around 19 years ago.
In need of a new job, Hubka applied to be the manager of the Haymarket Farmers Market and got the position. A year later, Jazz in June was in search for a market manager, and Hubka stepped up for that role as well.
According to Hubka, most of the vendors return from year to year. With only a small block on North 12th Street (between P and Q streets) to host all of the vendors, the number of new additions is limited to how many of the previous year’s vendors don’t come back.
“Keeping in mind of what I had last year, I’m looking for new vendors when I go out and about,” she said.
This year, Jazz in June will feature two new vendors: Stur 22 Lounge, a Caribbean and West African restaurant, and Mary Ellen’s Food for the Soul, a soul food truck. With the event’s most recent barbecue vendor, Big Luvs BBQ & Catering, not returning for the last few years, Mary Ellen’s will fill that spot. Hubka said with the limited number of vendors she can allow, it is critical to have original businesses that do not overlap in concept, giving the event the most variety.
“I try not to duplicate vendors because we want them to specialize and do really well,” she said.
Francie & Finch Bookshop — located at 130 S. 13th St. — is returning to Jazz in June for its third year. Leslie Huerta is the owner of the independent bookstore, which showcases different titles at her stand each week of Jazz in June. From nonfiction to children's titles, Huerta aims to sell books at the event that provide options for every type of reader.
“We try and bring some that are real popular, also some that you have never heard of before, to try and get you excited about picking up a new kind of book,” she said.
Another familiar face at Jazz in June is the Made It Myself Shaved Ice vendor. Based out of Tekamah, Nebraska, husband and wife duo Scott and Susie Robinson travel two hours each way to sell their shaved ice. With a variety of syrups in their “Imagination Flavor Station,” customers can pour as much syrup as their hearts desire onto their cones.
“It’s kind of fun because it’s like an art project that you get to eat,” Susie said.
While Susie discussed the tight-knit community of Lincoln and Jazz in June, she mentioned the difficulty of the last few years, as Scott suddenly lost his eyesight around three years ago. But Susie said he’s still a functioning member of the team who’s able to shave ice by feeling it after 22 years of being in business. Scott has been at Jazz in June every year and will make his appearance once again with a smile on his face.
“If I had lost my sight suddenly, I don’t know if I would have the courage to do that yet,” Susie said.
One of the main reasons the Robinson’s said they look forward to Jazz in June each year is the bonds they make with the customers and surrounding vendors. According to Susie, everyone helps each other out, and she and her husband have gotten to know the returning vendors in the last five years.
“That's your summertime family,” Susie said. “And you just look forward to seeing them the next Tuesday.”