OWOSSO — Curwood Castle Park is set to host the fourth annual Moonlight Market Thursday night as vendors welcome the public under the lights.
The market, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m., is free and will feature a wide variety of performers — including fortune tellers, belly dancers and magicians. The event also showcases more than 50 vendors and artisans from across the state, and is expected to draw 3,000 to 5,000 people, according to Market Master Tracey Peltier.
Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and dine under the stars, with a wide variety of food trucks and local restaurants serving their own unique cuisine. Additionally, market-goers are invited to explore the Curwood Castle, Comstock Cabin and the Woodard Paymaster Building throughout the evening.
Music will be provided by the classic soul, R&B and funk group Soul Syndicate at the Don and Metta Mitchell Amphitheater across the Shiawassee River, as part of the venue’s Thursday night concert series.
A children’s area will offer pony rides, a petting zoo, a variety of games, face painting and glow-in-the-dark cotton candy.
To make the event possible, the Downtown Owosso Farmers Market relies on its partnerships with downtown businesses and area nonprofits, Peltier said.
“Those partnerships are a key reason why it’s so successful,” Peltier said. “You’re bringing a lot of different people to the table, so they’re bringing their own unique sense of whatever it is they do or what they offer, so it’s a huge representation of who we are as a community.
“When people come from outside Owosso, they may not be aware of what we actually have in our downtown, so having the downtown represented, it’s building relationships,” she continued. “One of the things that the farmers market does so well is it gives you that face-to-face. You can certainly go to the grocery store and get a lot of the same things but what you’re not going to have is that relationship with another person.”
The market will conclude with a luminary parade, followed by the grand finale “fire show” at the amphitheater. As in years past, 100 luminaries will be passed out at Comstock Cabin shortly before 9:30 p.m., but guests are also encouraged to make their own this year as part of the market’s first luminary contest.
Judging for the contest will take place at 9 p.m. and there will be two divisions: one for children age 13 and under, and one for those 13 and up. Two grand prizes will be awarded and the winners will have the honor of leading the parade when it steps off from Comstock Cabin at approximately 9:30 p.m.
Historical Facilities Director Robert Doran said Curwood Castle Park has a lot to offer as the market’s venue, given its close proximity to multiple museums, the amphitheater and the river.
“Between the farmers market, the historical commission and Main Street, we’ve been working really hard for the past five years to get that park looking the way it is now,” Doran said. “We’ve put a lot of resources, money and volunteer hours and effort into really making that jewel shine and so I think it’s very unique to have a festival like this where you have four museums open, including The Armory. It’s just a beautiful setting.”
Doran also spoke to the importance of partnerships in making this event a reality.
“This is a real partnership between not only the city, which is the historical commission, Main Street DDA, and then you add the farmers market, you add the amphitheater, the Shiawassee Arts Center, you add all of the businesses that come together, so this is a real testament to how we build relationships in Owosso and how we use those relationships to make things like this happen,” Doran said.
“Tracey, Main Street Executive Director Josh Adams and I went to Seattle in March and we spoke at the national Main Street Conference. What we spoke about was exactly that, how we build relationships in Owosso. We used the Moonlight Market as one of those examples of how the community comes together and builds relationships to create these kinds of events because by ourselves we couldn’t do them.”
For more information about the Moonlight Market, visit downtownowossofarmersmarket.com.