×

Market Days is back. But another summer festival isn’t. 

  • Randy Roos, guitar player for the Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra, jams during the Granite State Music Festival at Everett Arena in 2014.



Monitor staff
Sunday, June 19, 2016

With Intown Concord’s annual Market Days festival and the return of the Concord Multicultural Festival, this weekend is one of the biggest all year for downtown Concord.

But conspicuously missing from the capital city’s summer calendar is the Granite State Music Festival, which struggled to make ends meet over its four-year history.

Organizer Scott Solsky did not return requests for comment, but Concord officials said he has outstanding debts for police detail and has not contacted the city to request a permit for a festival this year. The two-day event was traditionally hosted at the Kiwanis Riverfront Park near the Everett Arena.

“It’s not going to happen, I can tell you that,” Gene Blake, the city’s health and licensing officer, said Friday. “It would have been this weekend. Everybody’s been trying to get a hold of the organizers. I’ve been calling just trying to ask the question, ‘Are you going to hold the festival and are you going to change the date?’ That means to me they’re not doing it.”

The Concord Police Department is among those trying to reach Solsky, as the music festival owes $2,834 for detail at last year’s event. Lt. Tim O’Malley said the organizers have not reached out about a future festival date.

“As of today, they have not called us for anything this year,” he said Friday.

The festival started on the bank of the Merrimack River in 2012, and ticket sales grew each year. But in 2014, Solsky nearly moved the festival out of Concord because of outstanding costs from the previous year, including an unpaid bill for police detail. Last-minute fundraising kept the event in the capital city.

But the festival traditionally sells most of its tickets at the gate, and last year’s event was dampened by poor weather. In September, the organizers sent out a dire email.

“Despite receiving generous support from our sponsors, the loss of ticket sales at the gate has left the festival in the red,” the email stated. They made a pitch for donations “so we can close the books on 2015, and start planning the next year.”

In the last several months, however, no new information about a 2016 event has been shared on the festival’s website or social media pages.

“Every year, we get a little better at understanding what we have to do to put on a great weekend,” Solsky told the Monitor before last year’s event. “It’s important that these kinds of events happen. To highlight the great music we have in New Hampshire right now is really important.”

Solsky, himself a musician, prioritized good sound and stage production. The event had also grown to include a beer garden, local vendors, family-friendly activities and hundreds of attendees.

Fans are likely to be disappointed. Multiple people have commented on the festival’s Facebook page, looking for information about a 2016 festival.

“I’ve been watching for it!” one woman posted. “Did I miss it?”

Good to go

Intown Concord’s Market Days and the Concord Multicultural Festival, however, are both scheduled for this weekend.

As in years past, Market Days will run Thursday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Again this year, construction on the Main Street project will halt to make way for the festival. North Main Street was completed last year; while work isn’t completed on South Main Street, organizers said the road will be easily traversable for pedestrians.

“There’s a lot of people who haven’t seen the finished product,” said Susan Sokul, communications and events coordinator. “It will be great to see what it brings to the festival.”

The festival fits about 180 vendors – food and clothes, crafts and gifts, local businesses and nonprofits – on Main Street. About 90 percent of those vendors return from year to year.

The entire road will be closed from Centre Street to Hills Avenue. Demand was as high as ever, operations manager Liza Poinier said.

“We get calls every day saying, ‘We’d like to be a vendor at Market Days,’” Poinier said. “We filled up early this year.”

In addition to vendors, the weekend schedule includes live music, a beer tent, a mini-golf course, a rock-climbing wall, a Touch-a-Truck display and car show, demonstrations from the Granite State Roller Derby team, a Strongman competition and other activities. A kids’ play area will be open on the city plaza from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. And while the vendors pack up Saturday night, Runner’s Alley and Intown Concord will host the first annual Capital City Classic 10K downtown on Sunday at 9 a.m.

“Downtown is a very dynamic place,” Poinier said. “It’s beautiful. It’s changing. There’s always something new going on, and it’s the heart of our community.”

To find a full schedule of events for Market Days or sign up for the new 10K race, visit intownconcord.org.

Also Saturday is the Concord Multicultural Festival, which will take place on the State House lawn from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event was postponed last year due to a lack of funding, but organizer Jessica Fogg Livingston said this year should be bigger than ever.

“After announcing the postponement, we received an outpouring of support, allowing us to be able to make the 10th anniversary as spectacular as it should be,” she wrote in a press release. “The partnership with Intown Concord’s Market Days Festival will help bring people to the festival who wouldn’t otherwise attend, allowing us to showcase Concord’s vibrant cultural community and diversity.”

The event will include more than 20 local food and craft vendors, live music, dance performances, artist demonstrations and other activities. For more information, concordnhmulticulturalfestival.org.

Admission to both Market Days and the Concord Multicultural Festival is free.

Drying out

A pipe burst at Fifty Home last week, but it didn’t dampen owner Annie Clark’s spirits.

“The floor has to come out, and the electricity has been compromised,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “I have to also temporarily suspend our website due to damaged inventory.”

But Clark assured her customers Fifty Home will be up and running during Market Days. The shop sells American-made housewares and repurposed goods.

“I will be setting up a tent in front of the store,” she wrote. “This is an amazing event for Concord so I hope you will stop by and visit.”

Fifty Home, which opened in September, is located at 134 N. Main St.

A short week

Due to Market Days, construction on South Main Street will only last through Wednesday this week.

According to an email update from the project PR team, on Monday and Tuesday, Severino Construction will be prepping concrete vaults for burying utility lines on South Main Street. That work will take place on Hills Avenue and Thompson Street.

Crews will also pour concrete sidewalks in front of the Smile Building and install granite tiles near Gibson’s Bookstore.

For more information about downtown construction, or to sign up for an email newsletter, visit concordmainstreetproject.com.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321, mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)