INNISFAIL – The weather was cool but the sun shined and the music was bouncy and uplifting for this year’s final Market On Main.
When it was over, organizers had plenty of reasons to believe downtown’s first all-summer long Market on Main was a success.
In 2020, the Market On Main event, hosted in the closed off historical block between 50th and 51st avenues, was introduced for a four-week pilot project at the end of summer.
It was then decided, in partnership by the Town of Innisfail and the Innisfail & District Chamber of Commerce, to have it run 14 consecutive weeks from June 15 to Sept. 14.
Beforehand, the town added a new jazzed up look for the historical block, which included the transformation of the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Bankers Corner into a public outdoor plaza and gathering place.
“We’re not done, we’re not done by any means,” said Kane Williams, the town’s recreation program coordinator, while enthusiastically listening to the bluesy boogie-woogie country tunes of local recording artist Devin Cooper, who offered two 45-minute shows in the new pubic outdoor plaza for the year’s final Market On Main.
“This has been great stuff. You get to have an event space that is right downtown. You get to celebrate the end of market with a great act like Devin Cooper. It’s fantastic.”
Williams said the Market On Main was a high point for Innisfail in what has been an “uncertain summer” during the long and unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a lot of fun. It was great to see people out each and every week and it’s always great to work with a partner like the Innisfail and District Chamber of Commerce,” said Williams.
“I really like that we got people together. I love seeing what the vendors have each week. I love seeing how many different booths I haven’t seen before.
“I love how we get to put our own little touch into it, just bringing things to downtown. I love the compliments from people that are given to us about actually trying things that are different downtown.”
Williams said it's the town’s intention to continue with the Market On Main next year, although it might not be held every week all-summer long.
“It is absolutely a priority for us to make sure awesome things are happening in Innisfail, and this has been an awesome thing that has been happening,” he said.
For the 2021 summer season, Carla Gabert, the executive director of the Chamber, has maintained a steady committed presence during the Market On Main, working to get the full support of the downtown business community.
Gabert said the weekly event has turned out to be a boost for downtown businesses, as well as for vendors, as it has drawn more people. She said it has met her expectations, especially since everyone involved was forced to trudge through all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Gabert added this year’s success is something both the town and the Chamber can build on for next year.
“I think it’s been great for the town, and great for the downtown core,” said Gabert, estimating there was an average of about 14 vendors attending the weekly event.
“It’s great to see neighbours visiting again, and people going into the business and coming here week after week, and all supporting local.”
She said organizers will soon thoroughly review Market On Main’s first full season to see what worked and what didn’t.
“It was our first full season but I think it has been a success,” she said.