Silly Market spotlighted as Park City weighs impact of events
September 23, 2016
The Park Silly Sunday Market, popular in the summer and fall since it debuted in 2007, drew attention on Thursday as Park City officials discussed the impact of a busy calendar of events on the community.
The discussion was broad in nature and was not meant to center on the Silly Market, but the weekly gathering along Main Street in the summer and fall could eventually be impacted by policy or other changes made by City Hall regarding events. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are anticipated to hold more talks later.
The timing is especially notable, though, for the Silly Market. The recently ended season of the Silly Market was the final one of a three-year deal between City Hall and the organizers to hold the event along Main Street. City Hall and the Silly Market are discussing terms for another long-term deal.
Kate McChesney, the executive director of the Silly Market, attended the meeting on Thursday, telling the elected officials the event has nurtured small businesses like makers of ski poles, jewelry, bread and T-shirts.
"This is what the Park Silly Sunday Market is about," McChesney said, noting that the event is held only on 14 Sundays.
The Silly Market has long been a controversial event, largely based on its growth. There were early worries that the Silly Market, held on lower Main Street, drew crowds away from the businesses along upper Main Street. The Silly Market made operational changes over the years, including positioning some of its activities on upper Main Street, in an effort to assuage concerns. There have also been worries about traffic, parking and other issues that other events also must manage.
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The elected officials took testimony from people who said their business grew as a result of a presence at the Silly Market. But they also heard that some businesses close on Sundays since the Silly Market pulls away sales.
McChesney said in an interview she desires an agreement with City Hall covering a period of between three and five years starting with the 2017 edition. She said the Silly Market wants the agreement to resemble the one that ended with the 2016 event, including the same number of Sundays.
"We're an easy target because there's 14 of them," McChesney said.
The discussions expected later about another agreement to hold the Silly Market would be anticipated to be much more detailed than the talk on Thursday. At that point, if a deal covering between three or five years is presented, operational plans and, possibly, financial inducements would be addressed by the mayor and City Council.
"I wanted to show there are businesses and locals in this town that have been positively affected by Park Silly," McChesney said.
The mayor and City Council, meanwhile, also talked about the wider impacts of special events on the community. Part of the discussion was held as the USC marching band performed on nearby Main Street during a rally the day before the Trojans played the University of Utah. The band, allowed as part of a special event, could be heard inside the City Council chambers.
Park City leaders and tourism officials have traditionally seen the calendar of special events as something that boosts the economy. There have been concerns in recent years, however, about the impacts. The City Councilors touched on a range of topics on Thursday, including whether events should be moved to the shoulder seasons, whether some events should be ended and measures that could reduce traffic during events, such as restricting vehicle access.
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