Antique fair's move from Healdsburg plaza upsets vendors

  • Michael Lynch, left and his wife Gail own Healdsburg Classic Antiques, Saturday April 6, 2013 on Healdsburg Ave. in Healdsburg and are upset that the city will not let them hold Healdsburg Antique Festival on the Healdsburg Plaza. Instead the Lynch's and other have been moved to a parking lot behind Hotel Healdsburg for the twice annual event. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

For more than two decades, an antique fair has been staged in the Healdsburg Plaza. But this year it's being moved to a parking lot a block away, much to the dismay of some vendors.

City officials have decided the fair is essentially a commercial venture that doesn't belong in the venerable town square.

"It changes the whole thing dramatically. A lot of people are unhappy about that move," said Janey Hirsh, an antiques dealer who has participated for years. "I believe very strongly that moving it off the Plaza will kill it."

City officials say they are simply enforcing rules limiting special events in the plaza to ones sponsored by a Healdsburg-based nonprofit organization.

They don't want the cherished plaza — already a venue for summer concerts, occasional art exhibits and service club beer and wine events — to be overrun and get worn down.

The 85 to 90 vendors who participate in the twice yearly event on Memorial Day weekend and the weekend prior to Labor Day fall into a commercial category, according to the city.

It doesn't count that one of the booths is operated by the nonprofit Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society.

"The antique fair has been in the plaza a long time," acknowledged Jay Tripathi, chairman of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission. "They basically operated under the shell of the Healdsburg Museum."

In essence, he said "it's a for-profit venture. It's not an accepted use of the park. For years we toyed around with what we were going to do with it. It clearly is not permissible."

In December, the commission upheld a staff decision to deny permits for the antique fair to be held in the plaza in 2013.

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