Grass Valley’s Thursday Night Market changes: Ray Diggins quits
One of Grass Valley’s signature downtown events is not going anywhere, but changes are being contemplated.
With rumors surrounding the fate of the city’s Thursday Night Marketplace swirling, officials with the Grass Valley Downtown Association emphasized they are committed to keeping the popular event running but may make changes to the duration and format before next year’s version kicks off.
“The support among our membership to keep the market was overwhelming,” said Julia Jordan, executive director of GVDA. “We want to keep it, but we want to improve it. We have designated a committee to explore the ways of improving it and perhaps restructuring it.”
Members of the GVDA met Tuesday to discuss the status of the event and more than 50 merchants attended to provide input, said Steve Rosenthal, president of the GVDA board.
The consensus from the meeting is that no merchant wanted to marketplace to disappear, but that none felt the event was perfect as it was and that it could use a few tweaks, Rosenthal said.
Discussion centered on shortening the event in terms of the length it runs through the summer — it currently lasts 14 weeks — as well as truncating the hours, pushing it back to later in the evening, Rosenthal said.
Other specific changes will be considered by a newly formed subcommittee, Jordan said.
The impending transformation is not sitting well with Ray Diggins, who has produced and managed the marketplace for the better part of the last two decades and has taken to Facebook to air his grievances.
In an email to The Union, Diggins said he will no longer manage the event.
“The final word from me is that I am not going to produce it anymore — I no longer ‘feel the love’ from the GVDA,” Diggins said. “It was a great ride and I refuse to let the current board of directors define me or the event.”
Diggins felt some of the new merchants put too much emphasis on attracting consumers prepared to patronize some of the downtown retail locations and not enough emphasis on bringing the entire community together.
Neither Jordan nor Rosenthal explicitly said they were ready to part ways with Diggins, but Rosenthal said the GVDA would prepare a Request for Proposal and accept bids from any interested parties willing to run the market.
“I’m sorry that Ray feels he is being mistreated, but in all fairness, we have to do what his best for the downtown,” Jordan said.
“We had weekly meetings with Ray to discuss what went right or wrong with each market and he has always been given an opportunity to participate,” Rosenthal said.
“I understand the community loves the event, but there is a certain segment of the community that does not participate. We have to solve those issues and make it better for the merchants, the community and the kids.”
The event is popular with young people and their presence can be off-putting to some segments of the community, Rosenthal said.
However, the GVDA is committed to continuing its partnership with NEO — a youth-oriented sector of the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County that promotes drug-free activities for young people.
“It’s nice to give the kids in this community something positive to do, some place to be with their friends,” Rosenthal said.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.
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