Mercado on Fifth, an organization created to bring family, friends and strangers together


Community. If you ask Maria Ontiveros, it’s as life giving as the water you drink. “It’s almost as important as drinking nine glasses of water every day,” she said. “It’s so crucial to mental health.” 

Community is at the heart of the mission of Mercado on Fifth, an organization created to bring family, friends and strangers together. Led by Ontiveros and now in its second year, the organization hosts a weekly market in the evening in the Floreciente neighborhood of Moline, Illinois, an area rich in immigrant history and culture.

More than 50 vendors and multiple dancers and musicians perform onstage during the market. This year, the organization will be able to offer Movies on Fifth, a free movie night once a month during the summer and fall, thanks to the Community Impact Fund at the Quad Cities Community Foundation. The grant will pay for movie rights, logistics and promotion. 

Ontiveros said Mercado on Fifth aligns with the Q2030 Regional Action Plan because the event naturally draws together people of all backgrounds, ethnicity and age. The event has grown to more than 1,000 people each week. “There was a need for a family-friendly space and cultural attraction in the area,” Ontiveros said.

The Floreciente neighborhood is almost 75 percent Hispanic with nearly half of the residents living in the lower middle class. Two thirds of all households in the neighborhood speak Spanish. The City of Moline partnered with the organization to make the market possible, Ontiveros said, which also made hosting a movie easy. The movie in June will be shown on a city-owned screen. “It was super easy to plan,” she said, because special event licensing was already covered.

More importantly, it meant the city supported their mission. “Mercado on Fifth continues to open the door to more community events,” she said. “Now, our vendors are being invited to other events. The City has been wanting to engage the Hispanic community in something besides sports, and there are now opportunities to do interesting things like the Move Night. It has been a really great partnership that came about because of the grant.” 

Receiving support from the Community Foundation is also a vote of confidence, she added. “We were ecstatic. We want to make this a fun and dynamic place to live. The support from an established foundation for a new organization like us is important. I know the Community Foundation believes that we can succeed in what we want to do.” 

Ontiveros said people miss the Mercado on Fifth events during the winter, and the feedback for the Movies on Fifth event has mirrored the popularity of the weekly event. There is something special, she said, about spending time together each week. “It’s really nice to see friends and family by chance. It’s such a good feeling. You’re reminded that you do know a lot of people in the Quad Cities, and that you’re important and you’re loved.”

Melanie JonesEvent, Grant