Eastern Market’s Jan. 19 Offer

Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:44pm

To give visitors a taste of its past and a hint of its future offerings, Eastern Market will open for Martin Luther King Jr. and Inauguration days next week.

The market is usually closed on Mondays, but it will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 and 20 with some of the vendors and farmers who might normally sell their wares only in the summer.

The idea to open the market at a time when tourists will swarm the District to participate in the inauguration festivities came from the vendors, who saw a chance to give visitors a more authentic view of the city, as well as a break from the crowds.

“People will be walking around the city. They really can’t drive around. What chance would they get, if everything is all crowded, to get a flavor of the city?” said Eleanor Drabo, a vendor who has sold her jewelry at Eastern Market for 17 years.

The market’s grand reopening is still on track for this summer, according to Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Office of Property Management. Until then, indoor merchants are still housed in the temporary “East Hall” that opened a few months after the devastating fire of April 30, 2007.

Barry Margeson, who had served as OPM’s coordinator for Eastern Market since August 2008, took over as its interim manager when the contract of Eastern Market Ventures ran out at the end of 2008.