Lauchlan Ough and Jody Kliffer were in New York in November of 2014. Out wandering the city on a Saturday night, they came upon a bazaar in Brooklyn in an old warehouse.
“The lighting was like a nightclub, really dimly lit,” says Ough. “There were food vendors with all kinds of Brooklyn-oriented food, a beer garden with Brooklyn [made] beers. There were all kinds of art and craft vendors from Brooklyn. There was ping pong and mini-golf. There was a hip-hop show in the back with a huge video projection.
“It was this really amazing experience. You could just wander through it for hours and take everything in.”
Kliffer and Ough – who had both organized events like movie screenings and even ping-pong games called “ping-pong get-alongs” in uptown Saint John – both had the same thought at the end of the evening in Brooklyn: “Holy crap, how do we do this in Saint John?” says Ough.
Nearly three years have passed since that night, but on August 26 they will host the Moonlight Bazaar in uptown Saint John, set up in a corridor of alleyways that have become home to a thriving scene of restaurants, bars and the comedy club, Yuk Yuk’s.
The focal point for the bazaar will be the parking lot (emptied of cars, of course) behind Port City Royal, but it will encompass the area on and around Grannan Lane, which will be closed to traffic for the evening.
Saint John’s “first-ever night market” will feature local food and craft vendors, and vinyl djs from Kliffer’s nearby bar, Five and Dime. It will also be a licensed event in an area that houses popular city-centre bars which serve many local and regional microbrews.
The Moonlight Bazaar has many sponsors on board, including Civilized, Discover Saint John, Picaroons, Duncan’s Electrical Ltd., Hemmings House, Historica Developments, Five and Dime, and Grannan Group – most of them businesses in the general area of the bazaar.
Even though Moonlight Bazaar has some of the conventional features of a daytime market – the food and craft vendors, for instance – Ough and Kliffer, the co-founder of the Queen Square Market, want this be less predictable, along the lines of what they experienced in Brooklyn.
“It was such an experience to go to the [Brooklyn] event. You wanted to stay and socialize,” says Ough.
“When you go the farmers market, you’re like, ‘I’m going to buy some vegetables and see a few people I know.’ You know what the atmosphere is going to be. It’s predictable,” says Ough. “In Brooklyn, it was something you’re not used to. So it’s like flipping that idea [of the traditional market] on its head a bit.”
“It’s not, ‘I’m going to go in, buy a beer, stand around for 15 minutes and then I’m going to leave.’ We want to add a bunch of layers to it that would make people want to stick around.”
Ough says they want to maintain the element of surprise, so he won’t reveal everything they have planned for the event, which will begin at 8 pm and go late into the evening. But they’re hosting the after-party for the Fundy Fan Fest, a pop culture festival taking place the same weekend. Many of the attendees are into cosplay, so they’ll be dressed up. “They spend months on these costumes,” says Ough. “We wanted to add that element to it.”
Actor Kevin Smith will be one of the featured speakers at the Fundy Fan Fest, so he may turn up at the Moonlight Bazaar afterwards. “I hope he shows up,” says Ough. “I can’t say for sure, but I hope so.”
Will Kevin Smith come out? What about the moon?
Smith may or may not come out. But what about the moon in a city where the fog can envelop the uptown at any time of day or night?
They have that covered thanks to Kale Harper of Acre Architects, who came up with the idea of hanging a giant, inflatable moon, lit from the inside in the centre of the main parking lot, a sizeable area surrounded by multi-storey brick buildings.
As they planned the event, Ough and Kliffer kept thinking the market was missing a distinctive touch, until Harper came to a meeting and proposed the idea of the moon he had found made by a company in China.
“We [were] always feeling like there’s something missing, what will make the market different… Where did this idea come from? This is it. This is amazing,” Ough says they told Harper.
Ough says they plan to make the Moonlight Bazaar a regular event, one they hope to expand to other areas of Uptown, sticking with the solar system theme.
“If all goes well, we’ll do the moon here again,” he says. “In [another] lot, we’ll do Venus and then another lot Mars. We’ll have different themes at each site – the universe uptown.”