Evening market coming to town

By , on July 12, 2017

Saturday night events will feature live music, food, beverages and more

Beginning in August, the Whistle Stop Plaza will be home for the Whistle Stop Night Market, a project of the Ephrata Alliance.

The evening market will be held from 4:30 to 8 p.m., the third Saturday of the month, from August through October, and feature food vendors, including some upscale products, live music, and beer and wine.

“I think it’s a really cool idea and a nice way for our community to come together,” said Councilwoman Linda Martin.

During the market hours, the access drive from East Main Street to the parking lot at the rear of the property will be closed.

While an open air daytime market had been previously held at the Plaza, people seemed to be busy during the day and weren’t always able to attend, according to Rebecca Gallagher, owner of the Historic Smithton Inn and the Weathered Vineyard Tasting Room.

Gallagher is co-president of the Ephrata Alliance, along with Sue Burkholder.

“In the evening, we’re hoping to draw a different crowd,” Gallagher said.

Because a wristband policy will be in effect, children are still able to attend the event with parents, she added.

Plans are in the works for themed-music on different evenings, possibly Latin music or hip-hop – or other surprises.

“Basically, it will be a combination of a vendors’ market, live music, food trucks and adult beverages,” Gallagher said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Borough Council unanimously approved the request this week.

At present, the Alliance is looking for an organization to sell liquor at the August market. The local VFW will be supplying beer and wine for the September and October night markets, Gallagher said.

“Ephrata is an exceptional place to live, work, and visit,” Gallagher said.

Ephrata is also covered when it comes to organizations touting its virtues.

The Ephrata Alliance replaced the Ephrata Merchants Association, which had been formed in 1953 to encourage shoppers to visit the downtown area.

Other organizations working to support Ephrata, along with the Ephrata Alliance, include Downtown Ephrata Inc. (DEI), the Ephrata Economic Development Corporation, the Ephrata Chamber of Commerce, and Ephrata Unexpected, a project of the Ephrata Public Library.

As liaison between council and DEI, Martin gave an overview of DEI to borough council Monday evening, explaining the group’s mission and annual events.

“DEI is an all-volunteer group, hoping to attract new businesses to the downtown,” Martin said. “We sponsor a lot of events and we work in conjunction with a lot of partners.”

The group is responsible for the annual “Brewfest,” which was held in June, the annual Christmas tree lighting (with the Ephrata Chamber of Commerce), the St. Patrick’s Day “Shamrocks and Shenanigans,” and large planters used to enhance the attractiveness of the downtown.

The non-profit economic development group sometimes partners with the Ephrata Alliance or the Ephrata Public Library.

On Tuesday, July 18, the Ephrata Public Library will sponsor “Concerts By the Creek,” in Grater Park. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., a free concert will be given by a Credence Clearwater Revival tribute band.

This coming October, DEI and the public library will feature “Ephrata Unexpected,” a multi-cultural event that will also be held in the Whistle Stop Plaza.

To be held Saturday, Oct. 14, the event will feature an open-air market and a meal that can be purchased from ethnic purveyors.

Tickets, referred to as “passports,” can be purchased online for $25.

The passport will get patrons a table, but they bring their own place settings. To make it interesting, the best place setting receives $1,000.

“It’s a nice event that people will want to be a part of,” Martin said.

The future of Ephrata’s various non-profit groups may include some merging, Martin said.

“We’re trying to get all these well-intentioned people together into a more cohesive group,” Martin said. “We’re all competing for the same volunteers. What we’re trying to do is streamline our economic development organizations.”

Nothing is “set in stone” regarding the merging of any of these groups, Martin said, adding that a number of people are looking into the legality of the changes and particulars like tax implications.

“We’re all bringing people together downtown,” Martin said. “We’re all creating loyalty to our town.”

To purchase a passport for the “Ephrata Unexpected” event, go to EphrataUnexpected.org.

Marylouise Sholly is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

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