116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Market After Dark is making a come back this week after its pandemic cancellation last year, bringing its entertainment and open-container features back in new ways.
The popular annual event, hosted by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and presented by Alliant Energy, will have a new setup and more entertainment options than ever.
Most of the changes this year are part of a deliberate effort by the Economic Alliance to encourage social distancing and mitigate COVID-19 risks. But who said pandemic adaptations had to be boring?
One of the biggest changes attendees will notice is on the entertainment stage. This year’s event will have three separate stages — a change from one stage in 2019 — with different music offerings.
Country music artist Gina Owens will perform on stage at Third Street SE between Third and Fourth avenues SE. Tom’s Top 8, a pop-punk group, will perform at Second Street SE between Second and Third avenues SE. Clife DJ Company will spin and mix songs alongside a social photo booth in Greene Square.
When: 6:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021
Where: Downtown Cedar Rapids, Second to Fourth avenues SE between Second and Fifth streets SE
Cost: Free to attend. A $1 cup fee will be charged for those who wish to drink outdoors. Wine and beer will be available from local vendors for $5. Soda and water will be available for $2.
Parking: Street parking outside the market and at Park and Ride Lot 44 (150 Ninth Ave. SE) is free. Parking also will be available in nearby ramps for $5. Those who cannot safely drive home are encouraged to find alternate transportation and pick up their vehicles by 10 a.m. Sunday without penalty. Those using ride-shares like Uber, Lyft or taxis are encouraged to meet their rides near the corner of Second Avenue SE and Second Street SE.
Details: This year’s Market After Dark will follow a one-way loop with three entertainment stages and use disposable cups for drinks. Beverage tents will close at 10:30 p.m.; cedarrapids.org/events/market-after-dark
“That was an intentional decision,” said Julie Kraft, interim communications director for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. With different attractions on each stage and plenty of space between each one, organizers hope to reduce the size of crowds congregating around entertainment.
Keeping with its “Lighting the Night with Alliant Energy” theme, guests wandering the market also can enjoy light-up ballerinas and various artists at Fifth Street SE and Third Avenue SE.
Like the popular Downtown Cedar Rapids Farmers Market, Market After Dark will follow a one-way traffic loop around Second Street SE, Second Avenue SE, Fifth Street SE and Fourth Avenue SE. Boundaries are deviating slightly from previous years, because of the Justin Moore-Tracy Lawrence concert that night at the nearby Alliant Energy PowerHouse at 370 First Ave. NE.
The number of vendors this year has been capped to allow for more space between those selling baked goods, food produce and items that lend themselves “more to a nighttime market than a morning market.” With more than 100 vendors, the total is slightly fewer than previous events.
“We’re doing a number of things to allow social distancing, encouraging masks and being mindful,” Kraft said. “We’re preparing for a large crowd but totally understand if we don’t have one. Our main goal is just to put on a fun event for our downtown community.”
In previous years, Market After Dark has drawn crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 people.
“Quite honestly, we’re not sure what to expect. We know people are very concerned about the pandemic, and we recognize that,” Kraft said.
Attendees will notice at least one other change, too. Instead of purchasing a reusable cup this year for alcohol, attendees will pay a $1 cup fee to help cover the cost of disposable cups. A new cup will be used with each beverage. Wine and beer fills will be available from local vendors for $5.
“Market After Dark is a terrific opportunity to introduce and showcase our vibrant and fun Downtown District,” Doug Neumann, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, said in a news release. “We’re proud to host this free open-air event that supports local businesses, entrepreneurs and our surrounding communities.”
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