The reunified Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa might look a bit barren upon first glance with its clean, concrete look. But, as the season’s first Wednesday Night Market proved, this new-old square does have potential.
As a restless teen in suburban Santa Rosa, I always enjoyed attending the midweek market; watching the hustle and bustle from my seat by the old fountain together with my color-haired friends. We’d share a large Pasta King box, and leave our leftovers next to the homeless people who, surprisingly, always seemed capable of sleeping right through the noisy event.
When I first saw the new Courthouse Square, I had a hard time imagining this being the location for the vibrant Wednesday Night Market – it just looked too bland. But last week, as I attended the premiere of the market on Courthouse Square, I realized the new design works wonders for the seasonal market.
No longer divided by a street, the open green area in the middle of the square allowed people to come together and relax on the grass while catching some afternoon sun; the pop-up stage – complete with a dance floor area – showed that this can be a great location for live performances and midweek fun; and you could still smell delicious food in the air, find handmade goods in the market booths and even catch sight of a hula hooper or two.
A nice new addition to the market was the expansion of the craft beer and wine garden, which is no longer limited to a small closed-off section of the market, but instead takes center stage on the square – beer-lovers lined up, and cheerfully chatted with friends and strangers.
As I walked down 4th Street and across the square, there was definitely enough of a positive and playful vibe to convince even the most “square-skeptical” local that there’s more to this downtown spot than first meets the eye. Click through the gallery above to see some of the highlights from the Wednesday Night Market premiere on May 3.
Wednesday Night Market, May 3 – August 16, every Wednesday night 5 -8:30pm, Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, wednesdaynightmarket.org