Outdoor market slated to open at Atlantic City Race Course in May

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Charlie Pritchard / Dina Guzzardo and Dirk DaCosta look over plans for the site of a 10.4-acre outdoor market they plan to open May 3 at the Atlantic City Race Course. Charlie Pritchard / Dina Guzzardo and Dirk DaCosta look over plans for the site of a 10.4-acre outdoor market they plan to open May 3 at the Atlantic City Race Course. HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Dina Guzzardo and Dirk DaCosta are Galloway Township residents who often wake up on weekends and lament that there was little to do in the area.

“We need to fix this problem,” Guzzardo recalls saying often.

They decided that there was a need to create an inexpensive venue that families could visit on the weekends. They came upon the idea of creating an outdoor market similar to the Cowtown and Columbus markets. They floated the idea in various communities including their own, as well as Washington and Monroe Townships in Gloucester County, with little success. Then they discovered what they perceive to be the ideal location right here in Hamilton Township.

Ever since the demise of a full season of thoroughbred racing at the Atlantic City Race Course, numerous plans have been floated for development at the site. These have included construction of a minor league baseball stadium, ancillary facilities for the anticipated NextGen Aviation Research and Technology Park in Egg Harbor Township and the most controversial proposal, a NASCAR track, none of which have come to fruition.

The track still does feature a very successful weeklong slate of live racing in the spring, as well as a year-round simulcasting parlor. Truck and equipment auctions also take place in the parking lot a few times a year. While the live racing, which this year will take place April 24-27 and April 29-30, draws nice crowds. However, the other activities appeal to a very limited audience.

The pair approached track officials with their plans for the project that they have named Mercato Market.

“They were very receptive and helpful,” Guzzardo said.

Guzzardo is very optimistic about their plans.

“We plan to open on May 3, and stay open into December,” she said.

They expect to have 600-800 vendors at the site every weekend. Some vendors will sign on for the entire season, while others can make monthly or weekly arrangements.

“Vendor spaces are filling up very quickly,” she said. “I urge anyone who wants to participate to get in touch with us quickly to reserve a space.”

The partners are determined to make sure their vendors succeed.

“If the vendors are successful, we are successful,” DaCosta, who has a background in sales and marketing said. “We intend to set up an ecosystem where everyone works together. We will have workshops for vendors to help them succeed.”

The market will be spread over 10.4 acres in the track’s parking area, outside the former Clubhouse entrance. It will be divided into numerous areas, including antiques, garage sale items, arts and crafts, general items and entertainment. There will be a food district, beer garden and parking for 9,000 vehicles.

While there are similarities to other outdoor markets, Guzzardo and DaCosta plan to go well beyond what they offer, by planning entertainment events throughout the year. For their opening weekend, they plan a carnival and fireworks spectacular. Other events throughout the year include an appearance by Jimmy Buffett tribute band, the Landsharks, Italian and Irish festivals, Mardi Gras and an Octoberfest.

The entire list of special events, all available at no cost to visitors, can be found on their website, www.mercatomarket.com. Potential vendors can also get more information there, or by calling 609-377-8484.

Mercato Market plans to be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from May 3 until Christmas.

See www.shophamilton.com for detailed show schedule.



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