AVON LAKE - The Summer Market, an annual two-day event in July that draws more than 10,000 people, is leaving Avon Lake and will move to an as-yet unnamed lakefront community.
Increasing obstacles at Veterans Memorial Park, where the market has been held the past 14 years, led organizers to remove the event from the Avon Lake city calendar. The move was announced Oct. 15 at the Avon Lake City Council meeting.
The Summer Market co-founders Kristen Weeden and Erin Stack, who live in Avon Lake, declined to be interviewed but issued statements by email.
“To Erin and I, The Summer Market has always been about kindness and doing good,” Weeden said. “I don't think it would be appropriate to go into specifics about the challenges we've faced having this event in Avon Lake. I can tell you, the uphill battle we were climbing just became too much.”
Stack said she is meeting with other city officials to discuss the possibility of hosting The Summer Market 2020 in their lakeside town.
“Because this event brings in people from all over the country, it's a great way to showcase their town and boost business at their local establishments,” she said. “I'm hoping to announce the new venue by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, she said to find them in November at The Shipyards, 485 California Ave. in Lorain, for The Winter Market.
The market’s VIP shopping experience from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, is sold out, but the market will be open to the public from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. that Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. Admission is $5 on Friday and $2 on Saturday. Proceeds will benefit Blessing House, a children’s crisis center in Lorain.
The Summer Market features dozens of vendors selling vintage and new items at the lakefront park. It is organized and overseen by Girls Give Back, a nonprofit organization that has donated thousands of dollars to charities from funds raised at the event. Stack and Weeden founded Girls Give Back in 2012 after The Summer Market had grown to about 100 vendors.
A post dated Oct. 15 on The Summer Market Facebook page says "As the park goes through changes each year, our event must be rerouted and maps modified to accommodate the festival. It has proved challenging. Every change has had an impact and ultimately, the space is getting smaller while the attendance only gets bigger.
“This event has always been about doing good, supporting small businesses and helping community members and organizations in need. Raising money through this event has allowed us the privilege of serving many individuals, families and organizations — and for that we feel truly blessed.
"This past August, after our event, we sat down with our husbands and children and talked about the future of the Summer Market. We talked for a long time about the positive vibe of the event and what makes the Summer Market what it is today. First and foremost, it is the amazing team of volunteers that have come out to help us over the years. It definitely takes a village to run this event and we have the greatest and kindest village out there."
After much discussion and deliberation, Weeden has decided to step down from Girls Give Back and her role with the Summer Market to spend more time with her family. Her decision was announced on the Facebook page.
City Council members Eileen Campo and Zach Arnold are sorry to see the event leave Avon Lake.
"I regret that I didn't advocate more on behalf of this organization so we could keep them here," Campo said. "They will continue the event, but not in Avon Lake. People came from all over — even out of state — to attend the market. It created a nice economic impact on Avon Lake. It’s definitely the city’s loss.”
Arnold said it’s a shame that it has come to this.
"It's been an icon here in Avon Lake for a long time that has done a lot of good for people and organizations that could use some help," he said.
Weeden and Stack launched The Summer Market in 2006 to help save the Thomas Folger Home at the park from demolition and support the Avon Lake Landmark Preservation Society. In subsequent years, money raised from The Summer Market was used to renovate the homes of three families in need through its Gift of Home project. It also makes private donations through its Random Acts of Kindness days, helping many local families and individuals in need.
This year, Girls Give Back donated $25,000 to sponsor the Lake Erie children's bedroom at the new Blessing House in Lorain. A groundbreaking for the new home is expected late next year.
Stack will continue operating girls Give Back and building on the fundraising efforts.
Contact this reporter at email@example.com, or 440-871-5797.