The City of Trail has officially cancelled Friday’s Trail Market on the Esplanade after attendance continued to decline over the past few seasons. (Trail Times file photo)

The City of Trail has officially cancelled Friday’s Trail Market on the Esplanade after attendance continued to decline over the past few seasons. (Trail Times file photo)

City of Trail cancels Friday markets

Three special Wednesday evening editions are planned for June, July and August

After a six-year run, downtown Trail’s Market on the Esplanade has officially been scrapped.

Disappointing yes, but the news is not all bad.

Instead, the city will be hosting three evening markets – one in June, July and August – in the same picturesque setting along the Columbia River and into Jubilee Park.

“We have seen a decline in the Friday Trail Market on the Esplanade (TMOE) attendance over the last few years despite a re-brand and increased marketing and advertising,” the city’s Andrea Jolly told the Trail Times.

The original plan was to host only two night markets, says Jolly. But after discussion during the Monday governance meeting,Trail council agreed to three Wednesday evening markets that, depending upon vendor response, will take place along the Esplanade from 4-8 p.m. or 5-9 p.m.

At this point, the city is proposing June 6, July 11, and Aug. 8 to past vendors and entertainers.

“Once we have reviewed all the responses and comments, the final dates and times will be determined and we will proceed with the vendor forms and payments,” Jolly noted.

“The message to the vendors and entertainers was sent out late yesterday (Monday) and we have already received approximately 10 positive responses to the suggested dates.”

Regardless the date and time, the goal of hosting fewer markets is to create more of a “special event.”

“That includes entertainment, market and food vendors, and community engagement,” Jolly explained. “Not only are the evenings cooler, but also a better time for people of all ages to enjoy. We also plan to invite the services in the Trail Riverfront Centre to see if they want to run some special programming on one or all of the evenings.”

The events will be run by the city with the assistance of a summer student.

Last year’s outdoor market was a joint venture between Trail and the United Way of Trail and District. Although the TMOE resulted in a successful fundraising campaign for the organization, the board has indicated it doesn’t have staff resources to fulfill administrative duties such as vendor bookings and payments, mapping and onsite market management.

Trail Market on the Esplanade was never about making money for the city. So its demise is particularly painful for Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson – a longtime Trail councillor who, as memory serves, never missed a market.

“I have a passion for this market, and it was very hard for me to face reality,” Gattafoni Robinson shared. “Because I was there from its inception, so this was a real struggle for me, personally.”

While she agreed with the rationale that the local “market” for market vendors is saturated right now – between Nelson and Trail there are at least six artisan and/or farmer markets in operation – the councillor reasons that each one brings its own unique offerings.

“Each community has its specific niche that it brings to each market,” she said. “But for me, it’s more about the regular people that have come and really supported us from the start, that I have real heart and compassion for. They were there for us through thick and thin.”

For two seasons market attendance in downtown Trail was hindered by the uncontrollable, which was the weather.

It poured most Fridays back in 2016, and last year, market days were above-average hot and very smoky due to active forest fires.

“It went from the pinnacle of an event in downtown Trail with 70 vendors and, because of circumstance, to what it was with those numbers declining,” Gattafoni Robinson said. “But the market was about bringing people into the downtown core, it was a social event,” she concluded.

“It did so many good things for so many good people, it’s tough to let it go. But we have to face reality and move on.”

The August 2017 evening market was hindered by very hot temperatures and smoky skies

Scorching heat and smoky skies hampered the downtown Trail market season in 2017, including the 4-8 p.m. editions which had always drawn in large crowds. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Scorching heat and smoky skies hampered the downtown Trail market season in 2017, including the 4-8 p.m. editions which had always drawn in large crowds. (Sheri Regnier photo)