Column: Street markets mark milestones

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It’s the anniversary of Oceanside’s two Thursday street markets.

The oldest, the Morning Farmers Market, celebrated its 30th anniversary last Thursday, and the youngest, the evening Sunset Market, will celebrate its 15th anniversary next Thursday.

The first event coincided with National Farmer’s Market Week.

Freebies given out at both events include reusable green tote bags filled with goodies like toffees and honey from market vendors, as well as three historic Oceanside postcards, a Color the Sea coloring book of animals and plants from the nearby Art that Excites mural and information about California’s new energy upgrade. program.

Sunset Market runs along Pier View Way and Tremont Street west of Coast Highway from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tote bags are limited to the first 100 visitors at the market information booth at the Pier View-Tremont intersection.

A tote will contain $50 in “market dollars” to spend at any of the 200 merchants.

They offer hot dishes and pastries from all over the world, from Argentina to Africa, as well as handicrafts. There’s always music, this week with Audio Pendisco.

On Thursday mornings, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Farmers’ Market sets up along Pier View Way east of Coast Highway to Ditmar Street, year-round.

Just after the market closed on Thursday, Mark Bendixen, its manager for almost 30 years, said it had grown a lot since its first day (July 31, 1992) when there were some 35 vendors and “a lot fewer people “.

Featured are all kinds of products and other food-related products, from herbs to honey. There are also hot food stalls, but not as many as at Sunset Market. And vendors sell gifts and souvenirs. Friends of the Oceanside Public Library set up a booth selling used books.

Bendixen estimated last week’s crowd at 2,000 people visiting 95 vendors.

The Farmers’ Market began as a project of the city’s redevelopment agency. Both markets are now the domain of MainStreet Oceanside, a non-profit downtown booster organization.

Recently, Tasha Boerner Horvath, State Assemblyman, D-Encinitas, presented him with a certificate of appreciation marking the 30th anniversary of the Farmers Market and acknowledging the opportunities it provides for local small businesses and its impact on economic growth in Oceanside.

And, in turn, this growth has affected the markets.

Cathy Nykiel, MainStreet’s events director and manager of the Sunset Market, said last week that attendance was booming with the opening of new hotels and resort restaurants downtown and an increase in community interface. .

The market was closed for a year during the pandemic, Nykiel noted, but since it reopened last year, around 5,000 to 7,000 people visit it every week.

“It’s an estimate,” Nykiel said with a laugh. “Let’s just say they leave enough trash to fill all of our dumpsters.”

The idea of ​​a night market was not an easy sell at first.

Downtown Oceanside had become rather infamous as it was not a place to visit at night, especially for families.

But, little by little, the joints of bars and bands closed.

Prompted in 2005 by then-MainStreet volunteer Dick Bartlett, community leaders and city officials visited other night markets, in San Luis Obispo, Palm Springs and Monterey, for example, and said “why not here?” They came up with a plan.

It took a few years to convince some city leaders, but then-City Manager Steve Jepsen said in a previous interview that something needed to be done to help downtown businesses.

The city paid for the “festival” lights that cover the four-block market area and electrical outlets for vendors.

Sunset Market opened on August 2, 2007.

“We kind of had to take that part of town back,” said Kim Heim, then-CEO of MainStreet and still with the organization.

“It made a significant difference to how people felt downtown,” MainStreet CEO Rick Wright said at the time of the market’s 10th anniversary.

Of those who predicted, no one would come downtown. Wright said recently, “I think we proved them wrong.

Sherman is a freelance columnist. Contact her at [email protected]

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