Council addresses concerns over Wampus Wonderland Night Market
Spring Street will be shut down between 4 p.m. and
9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, for the Wampus Wonderland
Night Market, and some shop owners aren’t happy about
The Eureka Springs City Council heard from these
shop owners on Monday night, with Cameron DeNoewer
speaking during public comments. DeNoewer said the
businesses downtown weren’t notified of the night market,
an event sponsored by Main Street Eureka Springs.
“Ten days ago, we get, ‘You’re going to do this. This is
what we’re doing … and if you want to participate, we’re
going to charge you or we’re going to put a booth in front
of your business,’ ” DeNoewer said.
“That, by definition, is extortion, when you’re trying
to get somebody to pay for something they already have,
and it’s wrong.”
Shop owners pay high rent prices, DeNoewer said, for
the benefits of having a business downtown. He said he’s
upset with Mayor Butch Berry for approving a permit for
the night market.
“It’s wrong, grossly mishandled in every single possible
way,” DeNoewer said.
Jack Moyer, chairman of Main Street Eureka Springs,
said the idea for the night market came from this year’s
national Main Street conference. The booths won’t be
selling items that would compete with existing business
downtown, Moyer said.
“It’s purposely intended not to conflict with existing retailers,”
Main Street Eureka Springs board members met with
all the city’s department heads, Moyer said, to get the
“This is a success for our city,” he said.
Alderwoman Mickey Schneider said she’s spoken to
shop owners about the event.
“The merchants are furious,” Schneider said. “I have
some merchants that would like to address you in regards
to the situation.”
Mel Shipley said he owns a couple of businesses downtown,
saying a representative from Main Street Eureka
Springs came to his gallery on Saturday to inform him
Spring Street would be closed for the night market.
“I thought, ‘Really, how’s this happening?’ They said,
‘Well, not only is it happening, you are the only one
against it,’ ” Shipley said.
Shipley visited merchants on the street, he said, and
found 26 people who didn’t want the event to happen because
it would compete with their businesses.
“We are in the market of selling the want. We don’t have
anything other than what people want, and anything you
put on that street is going to fall into that criteria,” Shipley
said. “If you want to boost traffic, bring in entertainers …
but don’t come into competition with us. Anything you
sell is competition. We don’t need more competition, trust
Moyer said the point of the night market is to encourage
Christmas shopping downtown. Main Street Eureka
Springs is working to increase the number of tourists who
come to town during Christmas, he said.
“Doing the same thing over and over and over again
does not yield growth. It yields attrition,” Moyer said.
“That’s part of what’s hurting Eureka Springs. This is a
shopping event intended to be a signature event … that
sends the message to all our advertising, ‘Eureka Springs
is open for Christmas,’ and we all get the benefit of that.”
When it came to closing the street for the night market,
Moyer said, Main Street Eureka Springs followed the procedure
to the letter.
“I really ask that you guys honor the process,” Moyer
Alderman David Mitchell said the businesses have had
a tough time this year, saying the night market could be a
way to help shop owners.
“It’s trying to reinvent or come up with new ideas, new
things in an attempt to break the mold … in an attempt to
bring in guests,” Mitchell said.
Berry handled the situation appropriately, Mitchell
said, and the event will go on as planned.
“The mayor has the final authority to close the street.
Everything was followed,” Mitchell said. “The outcome
may not be great … obviously this petition shows that, but
guess what? We’re in the middle of a situation here now
where I don’t think it’s possible to stop what’s going on.
This year’s probably going to be an opportunity to test the
approach that has been laid out.”
Also at the meeting, the council asked Berry to entertain
lease proposals for the Norris Street property, re-approved
Steve Holifield for the Eureka Springs Cemetery
Commission and voted down alderman Bob Thomas’ motion
to reconsider the vote to move to city meetings to the
community center property on Kingshighway. Thomas,
Mitchell and Kristi Kendrick voted to reconsider the decision,
with Schneider and Terry McClung voting against
it. Berry chose not to vote to break the tie, so the motion
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6
p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at The Auditorium.