Market Days Festival in Concord to celebrate 40th yearBy EMILY REILY
Special to The Union Leader June 21. 2014 7:41PM
Live music, children's activities, shopping and classic cars are set to heat up the 40th annual Market Days Festival in Concord.
From July 17-19, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, about a half-mile of Main Street will be closed to traffic, clearing the way for pedestrians to browse the wares of about 150 retail and food vendors.
"Intown Concord's Market Days Festival is firmly established as a destination event, drawing tens of thousands to enjoy the abundance of arts, culture, dining and shopping opportunities in the great city of Concord," said Sean Skabo, president of Intown Concord's board of directors, in a news release.
About 50,000 people are expected over three days. Hosting that number in the state's capital is nothing new for Intown Concord.
"Concord is accustomed to an influx of tens of thousands of state workers during the week and tourists on the weekends. We've found that a majority of Market Days attendees live or work in greater Concord - but Concord also has lots of great lodging and dining options for out-of-town guests," said Susan Sokul, events and communications coordinator for Intown Concord.
Preparation for the festival never really stops - it's a year-round project, said Operations Manager Liza Poinier.
"We have a wonderful volunteer committee that starts meeting each January and that is very involved with festival programming and logistics," she said.
According to a news release, the event is central New Hampshire's biggest free community event of the year.
"Last year's Market Days Festival was super-fun and well-attended, especially considering that the weather was unusually hot and rainy, and we had a destructive windstorm come through in the middle of the night. But the tradition continues, and we're back this year bigger and stronger," said Sokul.
According to Sokul, several new retail vendors will join the fun this year.
"Many storefronts have filled up downtown since last summer, so there are plenty of new places for festival guests to check out," she said.
Some of the new businesses include: Runner's Alley, Gyro House, Wellington's Marketplace, Vivid Hair Studio, Kristin Kennedy's jewelry gallery, N.H. Federal Credit Union, New England College, YoYo Heaven, Live Juice, Northeast Credit Union, Gibson's Bookstore and True Brew Café, All Elements Healing Revolution and Double Midnight Comics & Collectibles.
Among the new activities this year is Market Days Mini Golf on City Plaza. Sokul said each golf hole will be custom-designed and built by local companies and groups. Those who visit Market Days can play from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is $5 per day for unlimited play.
An abundance of live music is also planned, said Poinier.
"There will be up to 24 hours of live, local music at the Homegrown Stage in Bicentennial Square; several musical acts over the course of three days in the outdoor amphitheater at Eagle Square; plus community performances and the Freese Brothers Big Band at South Main Park, a new stage at the southern end of the festival," said Poinier.
The summer is prime time for owners to show off their classic cars, and the festival will feature plenty of chrome and color.
"The members of the Lone Wolf Cruisers Club typically bring more than 50 classic and antique vehicles on Friday night. It's really cool," said Sokul.
There will five different beers from N.H. distributors under a tent. Four will be craft beers.
An outdoor movie is also set to take the stage, with the film yet to be announced.
"There are so many attractions, the important thing is to leave enough time to explore," she said.
Free Family Fun on the State House Lawn will host children's activities, games and performances from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
The festival is also partnering with inflatable fun center Cowabunga's of Hooksett, which is bringing in a tie-dying station. Bring your white garments Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bouncy houses and their "race track" will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at City Plaza for $5 a day with unlimited play.
Market Days will go on rain or shine, with most vendors, including the beer tent and Free Family Fun, operating under a cover.
"Rain is just one more good excuse to dance around, or better yet, duck into a favorite shop or restaurant for more shopping and dining," said Poinier.
Downtown Concord is easily accessible from I-93 (Exit 13, 14, or 15). There are three parking garages and street parking that are easy to get to.
Visit www.intownconcord.org for more information. Poinier added the group is always looking for new volunteers - email firstname.lastname@example.org. Poinier said a schedule and map will be posted around July 1.