INNISFAIL – Market On Main opened for its first full season last week and business owners were quick to praise the initiative as a boost from the long sting and financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Market On Main event, which is being hosted in the closed off historical block of downtown between 50th and 51st avenues, is back this year every Tuesday for a full summer following a four-week pilot project in 2020.
This year there is not only the full support of the downtown business community but the town also added a new jazzed up look for the historical block, which includes the transformation of the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Bankers Corner into a public outdoor plaza and gathering place.
Senior town officials, including the town's chief administrative officer, Todd Becker, along with Meghan Jenkins, the town’s director of community services, as well as town councillors Jean Barclay and Gavin Bates, made appearances at this year’s first Market On Main on June 15.
Bates said it will be interesting to watch the event’s progress, noting there were good reviews last year when the initiative was introduced as a pilot project.
“It will be exciting to go from week to week now and see how it grows,” said Bates as he looked over the offerings of one vendor. “I might even buy one of these pieces.”
Danna Melnyk, owner of The Gift Loft, said she’s excited for the prospects of Market On Main, and hopes it “grows and grows” with more people willing to take advantage of what the downtown is offering.
“Lots of people have forgotten that Innisfail has a lot to offer and Market On Main is a great way to reinforce that we have a good downtown and hopefully people come out and see it,” said Melnyk. “We certainly do need COVID to be in the past and move on to the present.”
This year’s Market On Main, a partnership between the Town of Innisfail and the Innisfail and District Chamber of Commerce, is running on extended hours, from 3 to 7 p.m., as opposed to last year when operating hours were 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
“With COVID it gives you a little bit more time to spread people out but it also allows for people to stop in after they pick up their kids from school and on their way home from work. We think it is a very workable time for a lot of families,” said chamber manager Carla Gabert, adding she expects the weekly event will also attract market-loving out-of-town-citizens and vendors.
“It’s going to be great for Innisfail having Market On Main. It is a way to showcase all we have to offer. People are looking for local events going on or in their area, and this is a great one for all to come out to.”
Gabert noted 15 vendors signed up for the first Tuesday of Market On Main’s first full season, which will be 14 weeks long until Sept. 14.
One of the out-of-town vendors for this summer’s first Market On Main was Red Deer’s Twisted Wire Art, which is operated by Derick and Susan Dunphy.
Susan said she had the day off from her day job and with Innisfail being close to Red Deer, it made sense to make a visit.
“It’s a wonderful town to visit, so I figured people would enjoy our art and take a look at it and take it home and enjoy it at night time,” she said, adding it was a great idea by organizers and the town to close off the block for a more relaxed atmosphere.
“People can walk down Main Street, or go to the store they want and also see what is in the market that day. I love it.”