The Banning Chamber of Commerce usually tolerates the bad weather associated with early January, but this year the market nights that would have been hosted downtown along Ramsey Street on the first and third Friday evening of each month, along with the car shows that occur simultaneously on the third Friday of the month, will be postponed until at least February.
Two of the chamber’s three staff, who are instrumental in setting up and coordinating market nights, are out combating COVID-19, according to Director Charles Varga.
“At this time there’s typically bad weather, but with two staff out with COVID we just can’t operate everything with such short staff,” says Varga, who recalls last year’s market nights during January were lightly attended.
He anticipates the chamber could be able to start back up in February, which is contingent on how fast his staff can recover.
It’s also a cost-saving move on the chamber’s part: the county charges the Banning chamber $300 a month to allow for the bi-weekly market night, according to Varga, and the chamber passes along a minimal $5 per market night fee for vendors to hold their spots.
Car owners who exhibit their vehicles are there voluntarily, and are not charged.
Mark Little, who faithfully displays his yellow 1963 Chevrolet Corvair at each market night, is disappointed, but understands.
“It gives us car owners something to do downtown,” Little says, especially with all the venues right there shut down, from the Station Tap House and The Haven, as well as the Banning Art Gallery.
Fox Theater was generating a little bit of foot traffic on market nights, noted owner Damon Rubio.
“With the market nights closing down, we’ll still be open Saturdays between 4 and 7 p.m. celebrating the ushering in of 2021 by pricing all popcorn, nachos and candy sales at $2.21 through the end of January.
According to Little, as many as 30 car owners usually commit to displaying their vehicles at market nights.
“Hopefully we’ll be back in February,” Little says.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at email@example.com , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.