Stopgap deal negotiated to keep Silly Market on Main Street |

Stopgap deal negotiated to keep Silly Market on Main Street

The organizers of the Park Silly Sunday Market and City Hall have reached an accord that ensures the popular summer and early fall event remains on Main Street in 2013, a stopgap deal that gives the sides more time to negotiate a long-term agreement.

Park City leaders and the Silly Market have been engaged in closed-door negotiations about what was believed to be a long-term agreement. Little has been made public about the talks. The one-year deal covering 2013 provides the sides the time to spend months crafting a multi-year agreement.

"The city wants that market on the street. We’ve been excited about the activity and vitality," said Jon Weidenhamer, who manages City Hall’s economic development programs and has been the key figure in the negotiations with the Silly Market.

The Park City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing and cast a vote at a meeting on Thursday at the Marsac Building. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

The agreement covering 2013 envisions a Silly Market setup that closely resembles the configuration this year. The event will be based on lower Main Street with some of the activities stretching onto the upper section of the street.

City Hall and the organizers, though, negotiated three significant points:

  • the possibility of expanding the farmers market onto parts of the parking lots on Swede Alley or into the Brew Pub lot on upper Main Street. The farmers market outside the Main Street post office would remain as it has been.
  • a requirement that City Hall notify the Silly Market by April 1 whether the Tour of Utah bicycle races will impact the setup of the market. The Silly Market this year moved to upper Main Street on the Sunday when the Tour of Utah stage was held in Park City. A cancellation of the Silly Market on the day of the bicycle races in 2013 or a move to upper Main Street are options.
  • the creation of a working group to better relations between the Silly Market and the Historic Park City Alliance, an organization that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core. The working group would include two City Councilors, two Silly Market representatives and two members of the Historic Park City Alliance. The working group would address issues like the mix of vendors.

    City Hall, meanwhile, will cut its direct financial support to the Silly Market from $80,000 to $65,000. Weidenhamer said the reduction is based on the Silly Market’s success and ability to "stand on their own."

    Kimberly Kuehn, the executive director of the Silly Market and one of its founders, said she supports the agreement for 2013 and wants to engage in more negotiations for a long-term deal.

    "It’s important for us to step back and figure out what we want to do," Kuehn said.

    The negotiations between City Hall and the Silly Market covered much of the fall and extended into the early winter. The Silly Market had a three-year contract to hold the event on lower Main Street in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The contract had two option periods of two years apiece. As the Nov. 15 deadline to exercise the first option approached, City Hall and the Silly Market indicated they would engage in negotiations beyond that date.

    A long-term agreement will likely be more complicated to reach. The possibility of significant changes to the operations of the Silly Market could be broached, perhaps by Main Street. Weidenhamer said the discussions about a long-term agreement will start by early in the spring.

    The Silly Market, started in 2007, offers a mix of merchandise and food vendors alongside street performers and concerts. It draws large crowds, particularly to lower Main Street. There remains some indignation along the upper reaches of Main Street, however, as businesses continue to claim the Silly Market has funneled crowds to the lower part of the street on Sundays.

    Silly Market organizers have attempted to draw the crowds up the street with the farmers market outside the post office and entertainment south of the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection.

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