Grand Ledge celebrated the end of its market season with a Fall Festival to help businesses react to the loss of annual events like the Island Festival and Color Cruise.
These events were unable to occur this year due to their inability to meet the COVID-19 safety guidelines. However, the Chamber of Commerce, which is responsible for supporting economic development in the community, was able to meet the necessary guidelines for their Saturday market known as Market on the Grand.
Market on the Grand differs from the traditional farmers market in that it includes a wide variety of vendors, not just those who sell seasonal produce. Chamber Executive Director Amy Hoyes said she had an idea to extend the weekly market one more Saturday to create a large event that would support the community.
“In August, I went to my board and said I really think people are wanting to get out of their house and the Market on the Grand is going well,” Hoyes said. “What if we tried to do the Market on the Grand on steroids? One day that is four hours longer with more people and parks. I came up with the name Fall Festival and within four days it sold out with 78 vendors and no more possible space to be used.”
Hoyes said it was important for her to create an event with vendors because she knows a lot of people lost their jobs or can’t work during the pandemic. She said the market and festival are especially important to businesses that don’t have a storefront or that just sell online.
Festival vendor Mary Hammerstein, owner of Sew Fun in Michigan, said she was thankful for the opportunity to sell her crafts.
“I usually do the Cherry Festival in Traverse City and four fall craft shows but they were all canceled due to COVID-19,” Hammerstein said. “I’m sure there are many crafters who are really hurting. Small businesses didn’t get any relief from the stimulus and many are going out of business. It is very important to shop small because you’re helping someone who is just trying to put food on the table rather than supporting a corporation who is just going to give their executives a bigger bonus.”
Grand Ledge resident Jenny Ginther attended the Fall Festival with her family.
“We choose to go to events like these to support small businesses because these are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our children’s classmates’ parents,” Ginther said. “These are people who make their living with their businesses and by supporting them we are supporting families instead of big box stores or huge online retailers. We were not only able to enjoy the beautiful weather but we were able to meet people, support businesses and have a great time.”