Park City approves return of Silly Market after 2020 coronavirus cancellation
The weekly event scheduled to open in early June, adding to the economic resurgence
The Park Silly Sunday Market on Thursday won the vote it needed to return to Main Street this summer and early fall, another step in Park City’s continuing economic resurgence a year after the event was one of the early losses of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Park City Council unanimously approved the Silly Market’s plans for 2021, expressing broad support for the event. The Silly Market is centered on lower Main Street with an eclectic lineup of vendor booths and offers activities south of the Heber Avenue intersection as well.
The Silly Market is a key event of the summer-tourism calendar, drawing more than 187,000 people during the most recent season in 2019. The cancellation in 2020 was an indication that the economic hurt of the pandemic would stretch well beyond the early end to the 2019-2020 ski season.
The elected officials did not spend extensive time discussing the Silly Market prior to the vote. There remains concern about the state of the spread of the coronavirus in the summer, but there are also acknowledgments of the drop in case counts and the increasing vaccination numbers.
Nobody testified at a hearing prior to the vote. Kate McChesney, the executive director of the Silly Market, assured Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council the event can be held in a safe manner and said organizers plan regular meetings with City Hall staffers and Summit County health officials.
The Silly Market season is scheduled to open June 6 and run through Sept. 26. Three Sundays — Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15 — are not included. Park City itself is considering pedestrian days on Sundays that would cover the section of Main Street outside the Silly Market boundaries. The City Council is tentatively scheduled to approve the pedestrian days at a meeting on May 13.
The Silly Market plans numerous measures designed to guard against the spread of the coronavirus. A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday indicated staffers found the measures to comply with the coronavirus protocols required by Utah officials.
In one of the key moves, the Silly Market organizers reduced the vendor numbers during the opening four Sundays. The reduction will drop the count to 180 from the typical 225. The report says the reduction will “allow better pedestrian flow and reduce crowding.” City Hall, the Summit County Health Department and the Silly Market intend to evaluate the status of the pandemic with the possibility of allowing additional vendors later in the season. The reduction is a “significant financial burden” on the Silly Market, the report says.
The Silly Market, meanwhile, will encourage mask wearing if the state does not require coverings at events. There will be social distancing signs, increased space between booths and the organizers will encourage people at high risk to attend early in the day. The organizers will also encourage contactless transactions.
The Silly Market in 2020 canceled the event in April, just as it was becoming clear that the pandemic would roil the economy well beyond the end of that ski season.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.