Main Street opposes renewal of Park City’s contract with the Silly Market
The Park Silly Sunday Market and the brick-and-mortar businesses along Main Street in the 15 years since the debut of the open-air bazaar have attempted to reach compromises about a list of issues, but the sides have never seemed to be in complete agreement.
The Silly Market sees the event as a draw for Main Street, and Park City’s wider tourism-based economy, while many of the businesses on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip have remained indignant over the years, saying the event has depressed sales on Sundays. The crowds head to the Silly Market’s eclectic collection of artists, craftspeople and food purveyors on Sundays instead of frequenting the year-round businesses, some have long maintained.
City Hall, the Silly Market and Main Street businesses are amid another round of discussions about the future of the event, and the various sides again appear to be headed into a difficult negotiation. The agreement between City Hall and the Silly Market to hold the event on Main Street expired at the end of September, so another deal is needed for future years.
Mayor Nann Worel and the Park City Council recently held a discussion centered on the possibility of a multiyear agreement between the municipal government and the Silly Market. The discussions are expected to continue in December, with the chance of a one-year agreement that would allow the sides more time to craft a deal covering multiple years.
Amid the discussions, the results of a survey conducted by the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, were released. The October survey results offer an intriguing look into the opinions of the businesses in the period before important decisions will likely be made about the Silly Market. They illustrate that deep-rooted opinions about the Silly Market remain so many years after the event was launched.
The Historic Park City Alliance, in an especially crucial question, inquired whether someone does not support City Hall renewing a contract to hold the Silly Market under any circumstances or whether they support a contract renewal for the Silly Market using the same setup as 2022. The members of the Historic Park City Alliance overwhelmingly — by 63.3% — said they did not support the contract renewal under any circumstances. The remainder said they supported a contract renewal mirroring the 2022 event. The results were based on responses from 98 people, although not every one of the survey takers answered each question.
In another key question, the Historic Park City Alliance inquired about support for the Car Free Sundays on Main Street, when a pedestrian zone is created on the upper stretch of Main Street as the Silly Market unfolds on the lower section of the street. The most popular answer, garnering 41.7%, was not supporting Car Free Sundays under any circumstances. Another 25% supported exploring changes to the Car Free Sundays, perhaps with a different layout. Nearly 21% expressed support for Car Free Sundays returning with the same layout as 2022. Another option — only supporting the Car Free Sundays if the Silly Market also returns — drew 12.5%.
The Historic Park City Alliance also inquired about under what circumstances someone would support the Silly Market. The most popular answer — drawing 58.5% — was if the event moved to another location rather than remaining on Main Street. Another 12.2% said they would support the event if it were held on the entire length of Main Street, while 8.5% would support the Silly Market if it were held on fewer days.
The recent meeting of the City Council likely foreshadowed an arduous process in upcoming months as decisions are made about the Silly Market. There appeared to be support for continuing the Silly Market, but there also seemed to be a desire by the City Councilors for alterations to be included in any longterm deal between City Hall and the event organizers.
City Hall, meanwhile, released a set of comments about the Silly Market collected on the municipal government’s online engagement platform. The comments highlighted the split opinions. Some of them included:
• “Park City has always represented the propulsion of local artists and tastemakers, why would we decide to jeopardize this legacy?”
• “Keep park silly going for local artists & tourism!!”
• “Why is it still here? Park Silly (Sunday) NEEDS TO GO!”
• “As a local Park silly is an incredible way to support people in the community and meet them as well. I love it and believe it brings a sense of joy to . . . town. Please please please do not infringe on it’s ability to bring happiness to so many.”
• “I think I speak on behalf of many Upper Main businesses when I say that I would like to either see Park Silly move off Main Street entirely, or at least incorporate Upper Main more effectively.”
• “It may benefit a few Main Street businesses but it is just a nuisance to me and many other locals. It is just one more time that Main Street is avoided by locals. I do not think a contract with the Park Silly Market should be proffered going forward.”
Park City officials want those who plan to conduct business in the city during the festival to understand there are rules they must abide by, even during a period when it may seem that there are few restrictions on corporate interests, film promoters and others who arrive for the festival.
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