It was another good year for Chattanooga Market. Now, a little less than a month after the final day of Christmas Market Too signaled the end of the season, the folks who run it are already well into planning next year.
Chris Thomas, executive director, said the total vendor sales for last year reached $2.6 million, up about 30 percent over the year before. I remember during the first year or two of the 12-year-old market when reaching the $100,000 mark was a big deal.
Holiday Market Too, which takes place over the first three weekends of December, averaged about $100,000 each weekend, he said. It takes place Saturdays and Sundays (and Friday on the final weekend) at the Chattanooga Convention Center instead of at First Tennessee Pavilion, where the market normally takes place each Sunday.
Market manager Paul Smith told me during one of my three trips to the Convention Center to do some Christmas shopping that they had 188 vendors, the most they had ever had. Not all of them are local or regional, like they are at the Sunday market, but it was nice to see the huge floor covered in handmade arts and crafts.
For the coming year, for the first time, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will be a part of the market. The full orchestra will perform there on opening day, April 21. The symphony's Youth Orchestra ensembles also will be there with an instrument "petting zoo" for people to touch and try out.
If you've ever wanted to play with the CSO, this will be your chance as well. For a donation of $25, you can sign up to play with the musicians during the opening day concert. You also will get a T-shirt and a ticket to the final Masterworks concert, "Elvis & Mahler," of this season. Anyone 18 and older is welcome to sign up and sit in.
Only a certain number of performers per section will be offered, so space is limited, but there will be three sessions throughout the day, so you can choose which time works best for you. A special performance area will be set up for the event. Call 267-8583 for information on signing up.
Chattanooga Market also runs a Saturday market on the Tennessee Aquarium plaza and another one in Ringgold, Ga. Thomas said he's excited to be working with Collegedale officials to set up a farmers market there. He said the city has long-term plans that could include a place for music as well as a market.
Thomas said he is working on improvements and changes for the 2013 market.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.