CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The popular nighttime farmers market in downtown Cedar Rapids returns Saturday, Aug. 24, for its fifth year.
Market After Dark runs 6:30-11 p.m., with nearly 100 vendors selling prepared foods, honey, baked goods, flowers, clothing, handcrafted items and more. A few vendors sell fruits and vegetables, but the focus differs from the regular Downtown Farmers Markets, held twice-monthly during mornings in the summer months, plus one in May and September.
In 2018, Market After Dark attracted an estimated 40,000 people to downtown Cedar Rapids, and organizers predict similar numbers this year. That compares to an average of 14,000 market-goers at each of the regular Downtown Farmers Markets.
Main stage entertainment will be the band City Park and headliners, Diamond Empire Band, at Fifth Street and Fourth Avenue SE.
New this year, Market After Dark will feature what organizers are calling a “not-so-secret” garden in Greene Square, made entirely of balloons.
Lighted balloons, balloons hanging from trees, balloons shaped like flowers and more will grace the park; also the site of giant versions of Jenga, Connect Four, Kerplunk and Lite Brite.
An illuminated mural, set to disappear at 11 p.m., will light up the Community Foundation parking lot near the railroad tracks at Fourth Avenue SE, where DJ Commando will crank up the tunes, and a lighted bubble alley will be set behind the Towne Center Plaza between Second and Third Streets SE.
Downtown construction along Third Avenue SE remains ongoing, resulting in a “great divide” in the configuration of Market After Dark, as it has for the regular markets. Market-goers, especially those imbibing in the numerous adult beverage options, would do well to be careful in that stretch of downtown.
And while kid-friendly options are available, the focus of Market After Dark, especially during later hours, is geared toward adults.
For many, part of Market After Dark’s appeal is the open container policy, allowing alcoholic beverages to be consumed within the market venue. Five stations will sell beverages from local vendors including Cedar Ridge Vineyards, Lion Bridge Brewing, Iowa Brewing Co., Sutliff Hard Cider, Clock House Brewing and Quarter Barrel.
Patrons must have a valid ID to show they are 21 or older at any of the designated entrances or at participating bars and restaurants to obtain a wristband, needed to consume, purchase or carry any alcoholic beverages throughout the venue.
Beverages must be contained in a Market After Dark souvenir cup available for purchase at participating establishments or at one of the beverage tents on site. The open container policy begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m.