OCEANSIDE — Thursday nights downtown are bustling once again after the return of Sunset Market late last month, attracting thousands of both residents and out-of-town visitors.
Just prior to its reopening on June 24, the popular street fair that stretches across four city blocks in downtown Oceanside, was last open in early March 2020, just before the first COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
The Sunset Market, one of San Diego County’s top weekly food and music street market, will officially turn 14 years old on Aug. 2. MainStreet Oceanside is the organization behind the weekly event.
Traditionally popular among locals and visitors, the last few Sunset Markets have been particularly packed with people since it first returned on June 24.
“We’ve had tons of people calling in super excited about it reopening,” said MainStreet Oceanside Office Manager Angie Leonard. “It’s something that everybody has always loved.”
In fact, downtown Oceanside, in general, has seen an increase in visitors since the state reopened on June 15 according to Sunset Market Manager Cathy Nykiel.
During the Sunset Market on July 1, The Coast News observed packed walkways crowded with people moving through the market.
Though Nykiel wasn’t sure exactly why there were more people, she noted that the city’s two new hotels and a collective desire to get out outdoors and socialize after being stuck at home for the past year may have had something to do with it.
The last year has been hard on everyone, particularly downtown Oceanside businesses and market
“We know many of our downtown businesses have been severely impacted during the pandemic,” Nykiel said via email.
“Many businesses have decreased business since the closure in March 2020, some businesses have closed or moved and many new businesses have opened.”
Through social media, MainStreet Oceanside has been able to get the word out about its businesses and the market for visitors, helping them over the past year and now as restrictive guidelines have eased.
The organization offered a virtual Sunset Market option on its website over the last year as a means to continue driving business to downtown, providing a list and links to vendors.
Sunset Markets are held every Thursday night from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tremont Street between Mission and Civic Center Drive and Pier View Way between Coast Highway and Cleveland Street. The market features up to 200 merchants and live music.