The second annual Okotoks Summer Night Markets by MarketSquare are kicking off this month, combining free family fun and time outdoors with supporting local business and talent.
The first night market of the season was postponed to July 18 due to weather, with the following two markets on Aug. 1 and Aug. 22 in Ethel Tucker Park.
“They are totally free events to come to,” said Megan Wozniak, owner of MarketSquare. “We’ll have live music, food trucks, shopping and more.”This year, the events have expanded to include more activities for all ages, such as fire truck tours and acrobatic performances by Spectacle Blue.
The first market will feature live music provided by Madeline Langdon, Larry Vannatta and the Jack Butler Society.
Over 60 local businesses and artisans were registered by the week prior to the first market, with similar numbers for the other two.
“The fun thing about the night markets in comparison with the indoor markets, indoor markets are so limited on space we can’t give everybody a spot,” said Wozniak. “But the outdoor markets, we can. We can take small businesses, we can take local businesses, we can take artists and artisans, which is really nice.”
She said she anticipates more people registering closer to the dates, as vendors tend to watch what the weather is going to do first.
Beer gardens have also been added to what’s on offer for the 18-and-over crowd.
Hosted by the local non-profit Foothills Helping Hearts Foundation, the beer gardens will feature a variety of drinks.
“We’ll have two kind of standard beer choices but then we’ll also do a premium,” said Wozniak. “So for July, our premium one will be Hard Knox, then we’re hoping the next one will be Hub Town and then probably Six Corners.
“We’re always looking for a local brewery to be featured as the premium brew at the beer gardens.”
To take care of different tastes and dietary needs, the beer gardens will also have red and white wines as well as vodka drinks.
Wozniak said the seating available in the park is limited, so she encourages people to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets to have dinner—provided via food trucks—and watch the performances to make an evening of it.
MarketSquare is an Okotoks business established in 2010 by Adriana Bratu and Andrea Wilton-Clark with a vision for regular community events and bringing exposure to local artists, artisans, musicians and entertainers.
As the new owner since Feb. 2018, Wozniak has continued the variety of events offered by MarketSquare.
“MarketSquare focuses on all things local,” said Wozniak. “We try and help local artisans and artists, but as well local businesses.”
Wozniak said even if local businesses don’t have booths in the markets, MarketSquare supports local business through swag bags with local goodies and cross-promotions at other events.
“We really try to support the Okotoks and surrounding communities, whether it’s businesses or musicians or artists or artisans, we really try and give them a platform to grow,” she said. “We have found that we’re stronger together, and that’s what MarketSquare works off of as well.
“When there’s 60 of us packed into one location in the town and say ‘hey guys, come out and support local,’ it’s a lot more effective than one person saying ‘hey guys, come shop my shop.’”