SAINT JOHN – The City Market will host a weekly outdoor “night market” on Thursdays throughout the late spring and summer, with food and craft vendors and entertainers setting up on South Market Street after the indoor market has closed for the day.
Ian Fogan, the deputy commissioner of Finance and Administrative Services for the City of Saint John, says the success of the Queen Square Farmers Market, the Quality Block Party shows and the Moonlight Bazaar shows the “support is clearly there” for outdoor events like this in the uptown area.
Fogan says the city will open up the atrium food court area in the event of poor weather and make the street on the south side of the market pedestrian-only on those nights. He says cars aren’t actually supposed to drive down the street, as has been the custom for decades. The night market may be a test case, he says, for eventually making it pedestrian only on a permanent basis.
“This street has always been part of the City Market, and people are looking for a pedestrian street,” he said, noting that it’s something that’s been discussed as part of the neighbourhood planning process in the south/central peninsula. “It could be a vision of what the street could look like in the future.”
Uptown Saint John, the city’s partner in the night market, advocated for the neighbourhood plan that’s now in the final stages of development. Uptown Saint John executive director Nancy Tissington says it’s great to see elements of the plan already in motion.
“We are pleased to see the actions from the plan coming to fruition and being bolstered as a priority by the city,” said Nancy Tissington, the executive director of Uptown Saint John.
The business improvement association (BIA) is providing marketing support and assisting with infrastructure requirements for the vendors.
“Activating space in the public realm is one of the key roles of the BIA, when we were approached by the city to partner we were thrilled to assist,” said Tissington. “Our large social media following will help get the word out. Providing diverse, family-friendly events is important to create for our residents and visitors alike. Cultural experiences [are critical] for a successful urban centre. Adding the night market to the roster will help provide another reason to visit us uptown and support local.”
The city and Uptown Saint John are hoping to hold the first market on May 30, but Fogan says they have to work out many things before then. They have to take in applications and choose vendors, and make sure electricity is available and proper lighting installed.
“We have to create the right atmosphere, which means we can’t just use industrial floodlights,” said Fagan. “We have to figure out how to hang the right kind of lighting there.”
They’re also hoping to have it licensed so that local craft brews and wines can be served.
Fogan says the street can accommodate about 20 vendors on the site and may change them week-to-week to create a varied experience and give more small businesses the opportunity to participate.
He says the entertainment may also vary with dance groups, musicians and buskers all getting the chance to perform there.
Fogan is optimistic the market will succeed, as long they follow the example of previous events that have drawn thousands into the city centre for events of this kind.
“If you do it right and plan it well,” he says, “there’s no lack of support from the community.”