Market Street Fair – A New Twist on a Redding Summer Tradition

Even before I moved to Redding, Marketfest was one of my favorite summertime rituals. Despite the event’s reputation, in the last few years, as a hangout for rowdy emo teens and an assorted cast of other characters, I was a fan. This year, Viva Downtown Redding, has turned Marketfest on its head and transformed the event into the Market Street Faire.

With a new location on Redding’s open-air Market Street Promenade, local artists and musicians, family-friendly activities and events, and the long-awaited return of the Farmer’s Market, the Market Street Fair is turning out to be the place to be on Thursday nights. I talked to John Truitt, Viva’s Executive Director about the Fair’s new vibe.

Why did Viva decide to re-invent Marketfest?

This year, the Historic Lorenz Hotel in Downtown Redding is going through a retrofitting and remodeling project with the construction site located in Library Park which is right next to the Lorenz, where we have staged MarketFest for the past 17 years. That closed off half of our available area. We thought this was an opportunity to try something new in the Market Street Promenade.

What do you think of the new location?

There is more available space in the Market Street Faire. The Promenade stretches for three blocks. With the extra space we have been able to add new elements and get new volunteers and businesses involved. What’s nice about the Promenade is that you can be in one section of the Market Street Faire and it feels like one thing, then you go down a block and it feels like a whole different event.

How has the event changed?

We have smaller and several music acts along the length of the Promenade. We also have room for more vendors and organizations. We have cooking demonstrations by Downtown Restaurants, which have been really well received and a special performance area where local groups entertain. During the first weeks we have had nightly attendance of more than 3,000. There is a strong emphasis on “local” this year.
What can music fans expect?

We feature all local musicians this year. There are a lot of talented people in the area, and the smaller scale performing spaces gives the community a chance to see real great musicians up close.

How about kids?

Shasta First Five and the Shasta Family YMCA have special kid activities. We have had many families enjoying the large lawn are on the north side the Promenade this year.

Are the old favorites still there? Beer? Food vendors?

Food, beer and wine are featured, especially wines and beers that come from the region. Famers Market features locally grown food. The larger area has given us the opportunity to offer more choices than ever.

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Hang out at the Market Street Fair, featuring a certified Farmer’s Market, local musicians and performers, breweries and wine bar, food and cooking demos, arts and crafts vendors and children’s activities, Thursday nights, 5 to 8:30 p.m., through August 1. Want to be involved in downtown? Viva Downtown Redding organizes several events each year and performs smaller improvement projects in Downtown Redding. Check out vivadowntownredding.org or call 530-243-7773 for more information.

Adam Mankoski is a journalist and blogger living in Northern CA. Look for his parenting blog, “Double Daddy,” coming soon.

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is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.
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14 Responses

  1. At this Thursday's Market Street Faire, a team of dancers from California Dance Company will do their stuff. Should be great fun.

  2. Avatar Cheri says:

    I love the newness! The energy flows beautifully through the Promenade, there is much more shade for people and it feels wonderful. The only thing I would suggest would be to have the dancing bands near the grass for the people who enjoy dancing. Those bands seem to be placed where the concrete is and it's much more fun dancing on the grass. Other than that I feel it it is quite the magical flow of happiness, joy and peace. Thank you Viva Downtown for creating a new, fresh experience for us in Redding!

  3. Avatar c says:

    Is there a link to the upcoming bands that will be performing? I can't seem to locate that information…

  4. Avatar Karen C says:

    Did they relocate the misters, as well?

  5. Avatar Sally says:

    Having been a Marketfest participant since the beginning, I am delighted an alternative has been created. With reference to a dancing type band at the north end with grass is a justifiable idea. The first night I went there, in fact there was a band at the north end and lots of people of all ages were dancing. Consider it.

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      Unfortunately, it didn't really work out to have a full, electrified band at the north end because it was disturbing to at least one (possibly more) businesses that were still open and trying to do business at that time of evening. There's still music in that location, but it's more acoustic (or lightly amplified) listening music. The louder, more danceable music is further south, where there are no businesses impacted by the noise. We've moved the bands around to a few different locations, actually, trying to figure out what works best. This entire summer is a great experiment, and so far it's working out pretty well! 🙂

  6. Avatar Lazlo57 says:

    I've got to make it to one of these.

  7. Avatar Joanne Snyder says:

    I love that the event is farther from the train tracks. I'm thrilled that the buildings provide shade and protection from the afternoon sun. I hope more growers come back! I've really enjoyed myself when I've attended.

    I miss seeing some of my favorite bands playing on the big stage at Library Park, but it could be that some of the local talent will become my favorite musicians. I am so impressed by all of the work that goes into making this event so enjoyable and safe and comfortable for everyone.

  8. Avatar 2r's says:

    Po~ten~tial.. With all the Beauty (chirp) and Beautiful surrounding Areas.. I like the New Ideas shared and the new Marketfest's Venue Potential.. The Promande was pretty bare and unused it seemed ..even with the very few Open stores and nice restaurant/hang outs here and there, it needed to Be utilized a bit more..Well done Downtown Redding! Focus on the Good you have…Much love!

  9. Avatar Scott says:

    Being from the Bay Area and accustomed to the availability of high-quality live music—and free local nights featuring it during summer—I loved discovering Marketfest. Yes, it was edgy. No, it wasn't always family-friendly, at least by some people's standards (though my kids, raised going to nightclubs and the like, loved it, and asked about it each spring, excited to find out who'd be playing). And no, it didn't look like it did much for downtown merchants, aside from drawing a somewhat questionable, mostly drinking crowd. Nor did it look like the vendors got much out of it (though we always tried to buy things in hopes of keeping it going).

    I wasn't surprised to hear it was no more, but I, like the rest of my family, was horribly disappointed over its passing. Because let's be honest: The new event is NOT Marketfest. Not even close. Long a fan and advocate of supporting local talent, I applaud Viva Downtown's efforts to do so (though based on the artist application, there's no denying it's a heck of a lot cheaper for them to do so). But there's no denying that Marketfest focused on the music, with everything else—food, drink, vendors, kids' booths, and until it left, the farmers' market—as support acts. Now, the music has been shoved to the side, and frankly, it's not on par with what was offered before—national and regional acts peppered with a local one here and there.

    Ideally, I'd loved to have seen a large, main stage at the end of the Promenade with high-caliber acts like we saw in the past, with a small stage elsewhere for local acts (much like you see at Lollapalooza and other festivals). Surely local acts would play for free, just for exposure, since they're nearly doing so now as it is. But no, it's obvious that the desire was to push music down into the aforementioned support-act role, making the new event more business-, community-, and in most people's eyes, family-friendly.

    So be it. I've wandered by twice so far and left both times, bored—and sad, because I lament the loss of what was really a neat, if somewhat gritty, local event. It may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but for someone hungry for live music—and the ability to expose one's kids to it—I'm really, really sad that it's gone. Wine and quieter performances no doubt make more sense for downtown businesses and vintners. But by making that move, Redding really lost something fun and special—and left me and my family looking to the Mosquito Summer Serenade for an alternative…

  10. Avatar Saras says:

    Viva has done a great job reaching out to other groups to be involved in the Faire. I love the new feel and activities. Every week, there is a short bike ride through downtown (2.5 miles, mostly flat with low traffic) with a theme. Join us this week at 7:30 pm meeting in the Shasta College parking lot near the lawn. This week's theme is "water fun". Prepare to get wet…and bring a squirt gun, mister, etc. More information at http://www.shastalivingstreets.org