Market Collective: 10 Year Anniversary

Story and photos by Sara Kuefler

There is no need to wonder why the Market Collective logo features hearts. From its humbler but very sincere beginning 10 years ago, when a crew of artists and musicians set up inside the Carpenter’s Union Hall and subsequently the old Ant Hill building, both in Kensington, to the current large-scale celebration happening at the BMO Centre on the Stampede Grounds, Market Collective has always been made with love.  Maybe that is one of the reasons it has always attracted people. 

Drawing crowds from the start, it was almost frustrating how many folks would come down to MC in the Ant Hill days. Space was a bit more limited and, from a vendor’s perspective, people would, at times, not be able to access your booth because of the crowd build up watching musicians or packing the aisles – not a bad problem to have.  The venues have grown with the Market however, and the BMO Centre is the most spacious yet. 

Extra room is good, because there are exciting new elements incorporated into the 10-year celebration, occurring this past weekend and the next, that require space.

There is an indoor skateboard park, which is incredible both for skaters and for people who want to watch the tricks being executed or attempted.  A blow-up obstacle course, kind of like a bouncy castle on steroids, provides entertainment for little ones and grown ups alike. In fact, I attended the Market on Sunday and while in line for this activity with my kids, I saw two adults emerge from the obstacle course absolutely beaming, discussing the most intense parts. 

An installation featuring large plastic letters spelling out “HERE” allows for a little philosophical cooperation, as people are encouraged to write why they feel they “are here” on white plastic balls which are then used to fill up the letters. The seating area in front of the stage is spacious and lined with food trucks, making it a great place to grab lunch while enjoying the music. There are some amazing performers on the musical roster. I was able to catch Future Womb’s set, which was a spirited and inviting performance.   

I recently spoke with founding member Angel Guerra about several aspects of MC, including the music.  When asked how they came to create the line-up of musicians, which we both agree is incredible, Guerra noted, “We went through it as a team. We were just like, ‘Who are the people that really shaped Market Collective over the years or were shaped by Market Collective.’ So, we put together kind of a wish list of people. I think 90 per cent of them said yeah. We had this huge list. It was awesome. Most people were able to do it.” 

One of the returning performers, who will be playing weekend two, is Reuben Bullock.  Bullock was Market Collective’s first musician and then first music director. Coming full circle, after finding national and international success (recently playing the Jack Singer in town, and touring in Ireland of late), Bullock returns with his band, The Dark. Guerra beamed about the evolution that has happened for both Bullock and the Market, saying “[it is] always awesome to watch your friends grow.”

Actually, when asked what her favourite memories from the past decade with MC have been, Guerra had this to say: “I think my favourite things have always been and probably always will be what happens between the markets. Ever since the beginning, I’ve always loved watching people grow and have new collaborations, the friendships that are made. Relationships that are started and all of that stuff. I think my favorite memories are just the time between the markets when people really get to know each other better because of their initial connections through the Market.”

Guerra’s response highlights what is truly special about Market Collective. It is a way to build community.  No matter how big it gets, that sense of home-cultivated community, inclusiveness, creativity and collaboration not only survives but truly thrives. 

Always looking to promote initiatives that assist others, MC has several charitable missions that were pursued during the first weekend, as Guerra explained, “We’re doing the clothing drive again on Dec. 7 to 9. Anyone who donates will get put into a draw for one of three $150 gift cards. We have a coat check that’s happening by donation. All that money is being donated to Making Treaty 7. We planted 2500 trees with TreeEra for our ten-year anniversary. TreeEra is also going to be there selling trees and whatnot. There’s a card station called ‘Make it Merry’ where you can come by and sign a card for homeless people and then it’ll be delivered to different shelters and people.”

The marketplace of vendors provides a diverse and high-quality Christmas shopping experience. Guerra touched on that as well, during our interview, when asked how the vendors have advanced since the MC’s inception: “I definitely think that over the last ten years everyone has kind of grown in their skill and their talent, artistic abilities. I think every year that the level of the creativity gets higher and higher. It’s cool to see all the artists growing and having a higher caliber of artists every year; and still with the higher caliber of artists they’re going to need welcoming into the community and a friendly space.”

So, cheers to 10 years of Market Collective. You have truly added something remarkable to our city. We look forward to the next 10!

Bring the whole family down to do some shopping, listening, playing, and maybe even take a photo with Santa, during weekend two, happening Dec. 14 to 16.