It is hard now to imagine summer without the Park Silly Sunday Market. The weekly street bazaar, with its lively mix of music, food and crafts, has become a popular draw for both locals and tourists. This year, especially, the event has drawn consistently large crowds.
The market has even worked its way into the good graces of the city's established retailers on Main Street, some of whom were skeptical during the early years. That is a credit to both the city and the market organizers, who made some important alterations to address concerns that the event may have been drawing people away from brick-and-mortar establishments instead of attracting new traffic. Some of the changes -- like adding a farmers market and a music stage midway up the street -- have turned out to be very effective.
Much of the success of the Silly Market is due to the organizers' original vision of a freewheeling celebration of arts and good causes. And, for the most part, they have remained true to that concept. Attendees are encouraged to recycle and local nonprofits are given great opportunities for exposure. There is a bike concierge to encourage non-motorized transportation, and alternative energy producers and other sustainable practices are also encouraged.
On a recent Sunday, local Cub Scouts were soliciting donations to send a crate of popcorn to U.S. troops overseas while, nearby, members of a school leadership group were asking passersby to sign anti-bullying pledges. On one portion of the lower Main Street plaza a magician tantalized a rapt group of youngsters and at the trolley turnaround their grownup counterparts sipped adult beverages while listening to a local reggae band.
Add to the mix a nearly rain-free summer and Old Town's intrinsic beauty and it is no wonder the Silly Market has been drawing record crowds this season. Our hats are off to the event's executive director, Kimberly Kuehn.
If there was one cloud on the horizon, it was this: During peak market hours parking was scarce and, if the event continues to grow, that may become a deterrent to those contemplating a Sunday trip to Main Street. We hope that during the winter months the city and event organizers will meet to talk about transportation alternatives perhaps a shuttle from a satellite parking area similar to the Art Festival setup.
The Park Silly Sunday Market wraps up with extended hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) this Sunday. If you haven't been part of the fun or want one more chance to linger in the sunshine with the Silly Marketeers, this is your last chance for another eight months! We will see you there.