Big Gay Market returns this weekend

Photo courtesy Big Gay Market/Ollie DiPietro and Ashley Shaw.

The Big Gay Market is back for its second run with expanded offerings this coming Sunday.

A project put together by local queer artists Ollie DiPietro and Ashley Shaw,  The Big Gay Market will offer more vendors and food, an expanded area and more safety considerations. The new market is centered on LGBTQIA+ vendors and will offer a space for local artists and businesses to reach as many customers as possible.

The duo received the top prize of $2,000 from the Arts Business Competition at UW-Madison this past spring to expand their efforts. Capitalizing on the funds gained are their existing plans to expand, the Big Gay Market will have double the vendors this time, made possible through a scholarship fund to cover registration costs. There will be around 50 vendors this time, up from 25 last market, and will be both indoors and outdoors.

“I’m hoping to have a little bit of a larger turnout. Our turnout last time was so good, but I just want it to keep growing,” DiPetro said. “I would really like to have a larger scale event maybe next summer, so if this goes really well, that’s going to allow me and Ashley to set up the event next summer to be bigger. If we have a lot of people come, then we know that we’ll be able to move to a bigger space and that it will be supported.”

Ollie DiPietro and Ashley Shaw. Photo courtesy Big Gay Market.

The goal is to consistently grow and improve on the Big Gay Market, reiterating a point that DiPietro said at the Arts Business Competition, and this will be the first trial run in expansion.

The previous Big Gay Market in spring was indoors at the Wisconsin Rugby Complex in Cottage Grove. The turnout was more than they expected and the duo knew that something had to change. With the weather nicer than before, the market is expanding to both indoors and outdoors.

Safety and accessibility are always on DiPietro and Shaw’s minds so they purchased walkie talkies for the market to streamline any issues that may come up. Masks are also required for the indoor space.

A couple extra additions will be more food vendors and a drag queen meet and greet for roughly an hour during the market.

The Big Gay Market will be held this Sunday, July 9 from 10:00 am -4:00 pm at the Wisconsin Rugby Complex, 488 Clark St, in Cottage Grove.