ITHACA, NY — The Ithaca Night Market will debut this Thursday, July 7 at Steamboat Landing. Open every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. through September 1, organizers are touting the market as “summer on the waterfront.”
“We’re hoping that this will not only be a mecca for tourists, but most importantly we’re hoping that it will be an inspiration for people who don’t want to battle crowds on the weekend to come and try out the Thursday market,” said organizer Jan Norman of Silk Oak.
The inspiration for the Ithaca Night Market was drawn from night markets across the country, intended as gathering places where communities come together around food, music, and drink. Although many popular night markets nationally are not farmers’ markets, Ithaca organizers hope to combine aspects of the Ithaca Farmers Market with the traditional night market focus on food and drink.
“There are so many incredible things that markets all over the country do and we’re trying to use the Thursday Night Market as a showcase for all of those things that we haven’t really had the opportunity to do on Saturday or Sunday,” said Norman.
Although a Thursday night market previously took place at various downtown locations, it never found a permanent home. Organizers, who have been planning the new Night Market since January, concluded that Steamboat Landing was an ideal permanent location.
“It’s absolutely lovely here at night during the summer,” said Norman.
Organizers hope that the new market will gain enough traction to become an annual summer market in Ithaca.
Although many local wineries are Ithaca Farmers Market staples, breweries have not traditionally been vendors. At the Ithaca Night Market, however, visitors can find local craft beer from Bandwagon Pub, Farm, and Brewery, as well as Hopshire Farm and Brewery. Additionally, Biz & Benny’s juice will serve non-alcoholic “mocktails” at the night market.
Several popular Ithaca Farmers Market food vendors will sell their wares at night: Sadya Snacks with Indian Street food, Just Desserts with wood-fired pizza, and Enat Ethiopian Cuisine. Night Market-goers can also look forward to new pesto tapas from The Gardens of Earthly Mirth.
However, the Ithaca Night Market’s focus will not be solely on food and drink vendors. In addition, there will be music, artisan crafts, and children’s activities in collaboration with Ithaca Children’s Garden, the Physics Bus, and Circus Culture. Organizers hope to have one activity available for kids and families each week.
Unique to the Night Market, local chefs will utilize produce from the market to host cooking demonstrations for both children and adults. Cornell Cooperative Extension is planning two children’s cooking classes at the market: one focused on pesto, the other on salsa.
In addition, Heather Sanford of The Piggery will host a demonstration on how to butcher a whole chicken, with hopes of helping market-goers to be more economical about their food choices. Afterward, she will also prepare and cook the chicken using market-fresh ingredients. The July 14 market will feature a demonstration by renowned Finger Lakes Chef Dano Hutnik of Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca.
“This is outside the mold of anything that we’ve done before,” said Norman.
Although the Ithaca Night Market will be happening at the same time as the CFCU Concert Series throughout the summer, Norman hopes that this will actually draw more people to downtown Ithaca, who will in turn also attend the Ithaca Night Market. Although some individuals have voiced concerns about the downtown events competing, organizers view the overlap in timing as a positive.
“We’re really hoping that it’s not going to be competition, that it’s going to be complementary,” said Norman, “We’re hoping that it will be an excuse for people to come downtown and enjoy the City of Ithaca and all of the free things that we have to offer. There’s no reason people can’t do both.”