There are vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, but the weekly Outdoor Marketplace event at Victorian Square is not to be confused with the old Farmer’s Market on the site.
Sponsored by 39 North Downtown, the second annual event that kicked off last week is a family friendly fun time with much more.
The not-for-profit organization of business and community leaders has taken on the Marketplace as one of their Signature Events to help them with their goals, mainly helping Sparks to “be among the Top 10 Places in the U.S. to work, live and play.”
Thursday night was a typically windy Nevada evening, with just the right amount of sunshine to keep the coolness at bay, as a result quite a few residents turned up to check out the vendors, food, demonstrations, and music.
What will I experience if I go to the Outdoor Marketplace?
On opening night, there were 45 vendors, with 40 – 50 vendors expected each Thursday night; new vendors will be added each week, along with more farming vendors as varying fruits and vegetables come into season.
There were some of the usual booths you might expect to see at a local market, other non-profits trying to raise money, educate or recruit members, The North Tahoe Lions Club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts of America, and Veterans Affairs.
There were other organizations there offering on-site services, such as the Washoe County Library System, where, for only a valid government issued photo identification card and documentation with your current address, they could sign you up for a library card. The library has some great offers to talk to residents about if they come, including an online software training system accessed with your library card for free instead of the high fee charged otherwise.
An incredibly popular booth with the kids, Great Basin Herpetological Society was set up to educate the public about the proper care and handling of reptiles and amphibians. The kids loved it, even as some parents strayed away, as volunteers walked around them with gigantic snakes twisted around their arms and shoulders.
If you are looking to purchase a unique gift, there was everything from homemade aprons, paintings, dresses, food, makeup, lotions, almost anything you could imagine, even homemade treats for your pet at Furalicious Pet Bakery.
Cipponeri Family Farms from Turlock had crates of oranges and peaches, the Mitchell Pickle Packing Co. had pickles and assorted pickled products, and to round out your hostessing needs, Bad Bubba Jerky was offering several different flavors of jerky made of brisket. Bubba of Bad Bubba Jerky was once featured in a story on KOLO Channel 8, entitled Sparks Man Goes from Homeless to Businessman. Bubba will be launching the Bad Bubba label at the Reno Rodeo next week.
If, after eating your way through the Marketplace, you would like to tighten up your waistline, there was a botanically based herbal wrap that tightens, tones, and firms.
What are people saying about the new Marketplace?
People who turned out were clearly enjoying the atmosphere. Simply by looking around at the crowded streets on the first night of a second annual event, it was evident the residents of Sparks were accepting of this new Thursday night format.
Vendors had a lot to say, Jim, of Sweet Yellow, volunteered, “Angela really did her homework in the off-season.” When asked how many times he has had a booth there, he responded, “This is my second time here, but I have had booths at other times. If Angela asks, I would have a booth anytime. I would do anything for her.”
“Last year was more confusing,” divulges Barbara Conboy of Barbs Wrap Solution, “it is the first day and it is already going better.”
Mandy of The Mitchell Pickle mirrored the thoughts of the other vendors, “So far, this is great, great crowd. Angela did a real great job for us – getting us a real nice spot.”
Who is this Angela?
Angela Handler is the Event Director for the Marketplace, “She is the reason why this event happens,” fellow board member Kim Ciesynski says of Handler. “She puts in a tremendous about of time and brilliance into creating all that happens. We are all volunteers but Angela is the one who put a (in a) tremendous (amount of) work along with being an owner of a successful tile store.”
Outdoor Marketplace will occur every Thursday until the end of August from 4 to 9 p.m. at Victorian Square with plenty of interactive fun for kids and the entire family.