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.
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.