This November 2019 photo shows a line of shopper standing outside Centennial Hall while waiting to peruse the wares of Public Market vendors. Last year’s event featured more than 200 vendors. This year’s in-person event is canceled, but virtual shopping is expected to launch in mid-October, organizer Peter Metcalfe said in a news release. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

This November 2019 photo shows a line of shopper standing outside Centennial Hall while waiting to peruse the wares of Public Market vendors. Last year’s event featured more than 200 vendors. This year’s in-person event is canceled, but virtual shopping is expected to launch in mid-October, organizer Peter Metcalfe said in a news release. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Annual Public Market is canceled due to pandemic

It was held annually for 37 years.

For the first time in a long time, Public Market will not bring throngs of shoppers and merchants to downtown Juneau.

Peter Metcalfe, who organizes the annual vendors market that had been held annually since 1983, announced on Monday that the event will not happen because of the pandemic.

“My wife, Sandy, and I had concluded we could not present a mass event like this at the risk of people’s lives,” Metcalfe said in a news release. “Hundreds of our customers and several of our vendors are elders who are in the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19. The city did us a favor by making the decision easy: we simply cannot stage the event this year.”

City and Borough of Juneau is using some of the facilities that have traditionally hosted the events, such as the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and Centennial Hall, as emergency warming shelter and a place for quarantine and isolation. In recent years, the market had expanded to include Elizabeth Peratrovhich Hall and coincided with an artist and authors market at the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum. The author and artist market was not directly affiliated with Public Market, but it was planned to coincide with the weekend following Thanksgiving and Public Market.

Last year’s market included 206 vendors from 29 communities in Alaska and the Western U.S., according to Metcalfe.

Metcalfe said in the release that virtual shopping will be available through juneaupublicmarket.com, and the site is expected to launch by mid-October.

“People have told us that at least we can enjoy a Thanksgiving weekend free of responsibilities, but for us it is like having to cancel a reunion,” Metcalfe said in the news release. “But It is an event that really reflects the holidays: everyone is smiling, embracing friends, and shopping for unique products they will find only at the Public Market.”

This photo shows the 2019 Public Market crew. This year’s market is canceled because of the pandemic. It had been held annually for 37 years. (Courtesy Photo / Peter Metcalfe)

This photo shows the 2019 Public Market crew. This year’s market is canceled because of the pandemic. It had been held annually for 37 years. (Courtesy Photo / Peter Metcalfe)

Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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