Silly Market, feeling ‘canceled on Main Street,’ braces for end of run in Old Town

There has been long-running friction between the weekly event, brick-and-mortar businesses

The opening day of the 2023 Park Silly Sunday Market drew a large crowd to lower Main Street. There is long-running friction between the Silly Market and brick-and-mortar businesses on Main Street, though, and there is a possibility the event will leave Main Street.
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

The Park Silly Sunday Market, a Main Street attraction for years, could ultimately depart from the shopping, dining and entertainment strip where it has been located since launching in the era around the Great Recession.

The difficult talks at City Hall about the future of the event, or another sort of market in its place, are scheduled to continue on Tuesday with an important meeting at the Marsac Building. Mayor Nann Worel and the Park City Council are poised to provide direction about their vision for a market — not necessarily the Silly Market — in the community.

There has been friction between the Silly Market, based on lower Main Street with certain activities south of Heber Avenue, and the brick-and-mortar businesses along Main Street for much of the time since the debut year. The businesses at various points worried about the Silly Market siphoning sales and drawing crowds that would otherwise be visiting upper Main Street. The Silly Market over time made alterations to the event’s operations in an effort to boost the entire length of Main Street, including locating some of the activities south of Heber Avenue, but some businesses remain displeased.

The current round of talks, involving the Silly Market, City Hall and Main Street, have been especially notable, though, apparently leaving open the possibility the event will not return to Main Street in 2024.

Kate McChesney, the executive director of the Silly Market, said in an interview the event prefers to remain on Main Street after the end of a one-year agreement that covers the 2023 edition. She said, though, the Silly Market is exploring options outside the Park City limits for 2024. McChesney said the prospects of the municipal leaders seeking tightened restrictions on the event, such as allowing fewer Silly Market days, reducing the hours and altering the day of the week the event is held, were factors.

“We’ve felt canceled on Main Street for a while,” she said, adding she wants the Silly Market to remain intact even if it moves.

A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the Tuesday meeting notes the possibility of an impasse between the municipal government and the Silly Market. The economic development program manager, Jenny Diersen, said in the report there are monetary issues at play.

“Due to the changes outlined by City Council, the (Silly Market) indicated they cannot advance a new proposal to continue next year, 2024 and beyond. They cannot make the suggested changes without serious financial impacts on their organization,” the report says.

The report also mentions the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, “remains unsupportive of continuing the (Silly Market) in its current format.”

Diersen in the report, meanwhile, offers an option for the elected officials to consider seeking proposals for what is referred to as a “new market concept,” including, possibly, a location off Main Street, dates in the offseason and a reduction in the number of days.

The City Council meeting is slated to start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the Marsac Building. Public input is expected to be taken.


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