Going to market? Grass Valley Downtown Association hosts Thursday Night Market | TheUnion.com

Going to market? Grass Valley Downtown Association hosts Thursday Night Market

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union


WHAT: Thursday Night Market

WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, June 28–Aug. 2

WHERE: Downtown Grass Valley (Main, Mill and part of South Auburn streets)

INFO: www.DowntownGrassValley.com

For Grass Valley Downtown Association Executive Director Marni Marshall, this year’s series of Thursday Night Market events will be the first she has coordinated.

But as the plucky, determined woman points out, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

Because she’s organized countless other public events in her various roles, including years working at the Center for the Arts, Marshall brings experience to her task of managing the six-week series of Thursday Night Markets.

But because it’s her first at the helm of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, she also brings a fresh perspective.

“My past experience allows me to reach out to people and gives me a wide berth,” said Marshall, who became the association’s executive director in September 2017. “My love for Grass Valley keeps growing. People contact me just wanting to be a part of this amazing event. I love this tradition.”

Thursday Night Market is traditionally a “locals” event — some, but not many, tourists attend. This year’s series combines the best of what’s worked in the past with novel new ideas, said Marshall. There will be farmers offering fresh produce and nonprofits promoting their causes. There will also be new vendors, expanded entertainment, and both scheduled and spontaneous art, dance and music.

“Marni has worked hard to generate a new vibe, bringing in new vendors and creating a fresh look for Thursday Night Market,” said downtown association chair Haven Caravelli. “It’s a great event for us to gather as a community, buy fresh produce, shop artisans, and have a beer together. It helps stimulate our retail to remind people what’s downtown or show them something new.”


Guests can have their photographs snapped in front of Grass Valley’s colorful new mural. There will be an area on South Auburn Street across from city hall created especially for youth to meet, enjoy music and dance. The Neighborhood Center of the Arts will present an experience called “Eye Candy: a 1940s Machine,” featuring one-of-a-kind unique small art pieces.

Music and dance entertainment has been arranged by Program Specialist Marissa Hernandez, who has also lined up buskers to entertain guests throughout the downtown landscape.

“Thursday Night Market is going to be fabulous this year!” exclaimed Lisa Swarthout, past association chair, current Vice Mayor, and owner of a downtown retail store. “We have new food vendors and new entertainment and great beer from the Grass Valley Brewing Company in the Wine and Beer Garden. This event brings a lot of people to downtown to see the new stores and restaurants. If someone doesn’t buy something that night, they come back because they love Grass Valley.”

Linda Clough, serving at Lucchessi Vineyards tasting room last Friday, didn’t mind people traipsing about on the roof hanging the signature street-wide banner announcing the advent of Thursday Night Market.

“We’re always happy to help make Thursday Night Market a success in any way we can,” said Clough, who got involved in the hours-long banner-hanging endeavor by cranking the pulley that stretched the banner across Mill Street. “Lucchessi is pouring our wine on two of the six nights at the Beer and Wine Garden. It’s a great way to introduce people to our fabulous wine selections.”


“Thursday Night Market showcases our living room,” said Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine. “Our living room is open to everybody, and we want the bigger ‘Family of Man’ to encounter what we have to offer. This is the opportunity for sociability, as the human being is a social creature and this is where we come together. This is our ‘water well’ in historical terms, where we gather, exchange ideas, and conversation prevails. Showing off what is available in our adorable downtown is paramount to having people fall in love with Grass Valley.”

Even as Thursday Night Market and Fourth of July festivities loom, Marshall is busy organizing a growers’ market that would continue through October on Thursday evenings. Planning is still in works, but it’s likely growers would have their booths stationed on North Auburn Street and there would be no downtown street closures.

“Our local farmers really want to be in downtown,” said Marshall. “They have a long growing season and want to provide fresh produce even after our Thursday Night Market series ends.”

Marshall said more details will be revealed on the downtown association’s website as plans progress.

Marshall volunteered during last year’s Thursday Night Market events, watching, learning and doing a lot of physical labor. As executive director this year, she’s providing both brains and muscle. While city leaders are quick to give Marshall and Hernandez credit for their vision and dedication organizing Thursday Night Market, Marshall is humble.

“We invested a lot of time and energy to ensure that there are interesting activities for everyone to see or participate in,” said Marshall. “This is my first Thursday Night Market, but not my first rodeo. We’ve chosen local people who create quality merchandise, and we expect up to 130 vendors. We’ve filled the streets with art, dance, and photo opportunities. We really want to engage everyone.”

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

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