Although the Metro East has several farmers markets, there is a different type of market hidden in Alton at the Jacoby Arts Center. On Thursday nights, from 7-10 p.m. Jacoby is home to Alton’s night market, full of artists and musicians to explore and support.
Executive Director at Jacoby Arts Center Rachel Lappin described the night market as a place for artists to sell their work, with a concert every night.
“The night market is a lot of things. It’s an outdoor concert, and an indoor open-mic night, put on weekly for the community, and entry is totally free. “It’s like a farmers market, but more eclectic.”
Lappin said the night market is similar to a farmers market, but a bit stranger and more relaxed.
“It’s a different crowd at the night market. There’s a different vibe there, even different than other Jacoby events. It has a Thursday-night, late-night market feel. It’s weird and it’s fun,” Lappin said. “You can even feel it from week to week, different vendors and bands show up, and it creates a different vibe.”
One of Lappin’s favorite parts of hosting the night market is the exposure it grants to local artists.
“The night market is this great opportunity to connect the artists in the community,” Lappin said. “It’s a way for local bands and artists to get out there.”
The market is organized by Alton Main Street, a local organization dedicated to keeping up the local economy and supporting Alton’s downtown district.
Head of Promotions for Alton Main Street Sally Kirbach said although the night market has been a part of Alton for six years now, it wasn’t always at Jacoby.
When the previous venue closed, Jacoby reached out to Alton, and according to Kirbach, for the four years since, the night market has been located there. Kirbach said the outdoor aspect of the market was kept alive through Jacoby’s small pocket park.
“When Jacoby reached out and said they were interested, we just fell in love with it. I forget who all was with us, but [members of Alton Main Street] went to Jacoby’s pocket park and played some music there, and we really loved it,” Kirbach said. “A big part is creating an outdoor environment, and seeing people outside, enjoying it, and we were glad to keep that.”
Alton has other markets as well, such as the Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, which is on Saturday mornings in downtown Alton, instead of Thursday evenings like the night market.
Executive Director of Alton Main Street Sara McGibany said the night market mirrors the farmers market, but has a different focus, and a different feeling.
“[The Alton Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market] is very popular and pretty huge, but that time frame didn’t work for some artists. A lot of them obviously have 9-to-5s,” McGibany said. “So we created this on Thursday nights. It starts at 7, so it gives the artists time to go to work in the day, go home and get their stand together.”
Kirbach said the night market is supposed to fill in gaps left by Alton’s Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market.
“[Creating the night market] was all a way of trying to fulfill a need we didn’t realize was there. Atlon is rich with artists and musicians,” Kirbach said. “We thought a weekly night market would benefit a lot of people. As it comes to find out, it does … Saturday mornings aren’t ideal for my work schedule, personally. And I know I’m not alone. And because of that, we wanted to start the night market.”
McGibany said the market has plenty of artists selling their work, but it also has musicians, performing artists and plenty of other types of vendors that aren’t at Alton’s Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market.
“The night market is definitely slanted more toward artists and creatives. We want to give artists a chance to build in the community. And not only visual artists, but performing. All products have to be handmade or homegrown at the farmers market, but we allow thrifting, we have a number of groups doing clothing resales and we have people doing flower arrangements and the performing arts,” McGibany said. “It’s all really a broad spectrum of all kinds of performers and makers.”
For more information, check the Alton Night Market’s website.