The Sunset Strip Market, which has migrated from a focus on locally grown produce to a focus on craft beer in an effort to expand attendance, now has instituted a monthly drag queen bingo event.
The market, being held each Thursday night until Sept. 25, often includes live music or other entertainment, such as an art demonstration, according to Todd Steadman, director of the Sunset Strip Business Association, which stages the market. The drag queen bingo event now takes over the stage for part of the evening once per month.
In April, West Hollywood’s Economic Development Division and Community Development Department issued a report noting a decline in attendance at the market. An average of 600 people attended the market each week in 2012, dropping to 500 last year. An audit showed the SSBA lost $215,000 on the Farmers Market in the 2012/2013 fiscal year.
The Council endorsed a proposal by the SSBA to hire Calamigos Ranch to manage the market and recast it from its former focus branding as “certified farmers market,” in which at least 50 percent of the produce must be sold by the farmers who grow it.
Steadman said attendance is up so far this year to about 1,000 people per week and that “the market is doing better than ever.” Steadman credited the partnership with Calimigos Ranch for drawing bigger crowds and bringing the market “to the next level.”
Steadman said that drag queen bingo, managed by an organizer who coordinates Hamburger Mary’s bingo nights, was added to the market’s slate of events at the suggestion of City Councilmember John Duran.
“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on it,” said Steadman, who added that it encourages people to stay in the area longer (which dovetails with one of the market’s goals of driving people to businesses in the area.)
The market’s increased focus on craft beer and wine has entailed widening the selection of both, Steadman said. Last year’s selection of three or four craft beers has expanded to about a dozen, he said, and there are six or seven wines, which can be tried in “flights” or tastings.
The market takes place each Thursday from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at 8755 Sunset Blvd. at Sherbourne.