Park City was known for dancing to the beat of a different drummer long before Kimberly Kuehn arrived in 2001. But by creating the Park Silly Sunday Market and other events, Kuehn has shown Parkites how much more fun it is to fly that freak flag while wearing sequins and a tutu.
A Better Life
Living in Connecticut and working in Manhattan, I found the East Coast’s competitive culture was wearing on me. Then 9/11 happened. Within two weeks I packed up my car and my dog and, because I loved to ski, started driving for Park City. My plan was to reinvent my formerly corporate-focused self, marry a chairlift operator, and chillax.
Telling First Impression
My dog was pretty much the center of my world when I moved here, and I quickly realized that many people here felt the same way. To celebrate that, just three weeks after I got to town, I found myself using a bullhorn and a jambox playing “Who Let the Dogs Out?” to close down Main Street for the first Howl-o-ween Dog Parade.
Everyone Needs a Hobby
A few years later the recession hit, and I was talking with a couple of girlfriends (Jewels Harrison and Julie Dorr-Arenson) about how we could help Park City keep its good energy going through those tough times. We hatched an idea for a yard sale–like market on the lawn by the Miner’s Hospital. I thought it would be this fun little Sunday project that would leave me plenty of time to work the rest of the week and be a mom (I was pregnant at the time). Since I love to get dressed up in costumes and have a good time, it needed to be silly, which gave us the name. When we approached Park City Municipal about what we were planning, they asked us to hold the market on Main Street.
Keeping It Real
Going into the market’s ninth season, I can honestly say I never imagined Park Silly becoming what it is today. Last year 162,000 people attended, making it Park City’s second-largest event. More than 50 businesses have been incubated at the market over the years, including Sammy’s Bistro, Yee-Haw Pickle Company, and Red Bicycle Bread. We’ve worked hard to maintain its community feel by continuing to donate a third of the 240 vendor spaces to nonprofits, free kids’ activities, sustainability-focused organizations, and the farmers. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and keep learning every day. Community feedback determines how the market will evolve. That and working with Park City Municipal and the Historic Main Street Alliance is key to the market’s long-term success.
All in the Family
Soon after I moved to Park City I began recruiting my family to move here, too. There are now 22 of us in Park City! Even better is that I get to work with many of them. My sister Kate Boyd, who’s worked with me on the market for several years, is now Park Silly executive director (I’ll remain around as CEO/founder/mascot), and my cousin Travis English is the executive director of the Summit County Fair in Coalville.
To Market, to Market
I’m really excited about this year’s market. Many more sustainable product vendors are joining us, including water conservation and solar power vendors. Several more musicians, performers, and dance acts are on the books. There’s a new African food vendor we’re excited about, too. The gourmet food vendor applications went through the roof this spring, so expect more of those. And then, of course, all the Park Silly faves will return, including the Bloody Mary Bar and the beer garden, which I think may be one of the biggest in Utah.
Casting a Wider Net
I also do a lot of tourism lobbying through Ski Utah and the Utah Office of Tourism. I’m the Summit County Ambassador for the Girl Scouts of Utah, and supporting the Red Cross has always been a passion of mine. My family’s house burned down when I was in third grade, and the Red Cross was there. They were there when I was living in Atlanta during the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. And they were there in New York City on 9/11. I want people to know that the Red Cross is about so much more than blood.
The Park Silly Sunday Market is held Sundays on Historic Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 7–Sept 20 (except for Aug 3 and 10). For details, visit parksillysundaymarket.com.