In a coup that will draw literally hundreds of tourists to town, Cleveland has landed an 2012 International Public Markets Conference.
It's not about the tourists though, of which there will be about 300. It's about the impact of bringing the conference to the West Side Market, showing off Cleveland's gleaming sustainability and local food movements, and beating out other candidates like London and Toronto.
The West Side Market was the big draw to the conference organizers. Stephen Davies from the Project for Public Spaces told the Plain Dealer, "It was huge. It's one of the most stunning indoor public markets in the country, and there are not many left in the United States. There are some 150 of them, and Cleveland's historically is probably the grandest of them all."
The conference promises national and global attention for Cleveland's growing local food scene and the West Side Market, which will celebrate its 100th birthday late next year.
The eighth International Public Markets Conference could occur shortly before or after Mayor Frank Jackson's annual sustainability conference, intended to focus on local food in 2012, and would be a prelude to the biggest of the West Side Market's birthday events.
Stephen Davies, senior vice president with the Project for Public Spaces, lauded Cleveland's pitch as the best of 20-something applications from potential host cities. The West Side Market and its upcoming centennial were key factors in helping Cleveland beat out finalists Seattle; Charleston, S.C.; along with Toronto and London.
Money has already been pledged from plenty of local companies including Metro and National City.
And in all seriousness, this is a big coup for Cleveland. Let's all raise our trail bologna for a toast.