It has been more than three years since the electrical fire that devastated Eastern Market and about a year since the fully restored market was unveiled. Now, according to interim Manager Barry Margeson, the market’s North Hall is playing host to a wide variety of public and private events, ranging from political fundraisers to weddings.
“The North Hall is a popular venue for all types of gatherings and has been used by private companies, non-profits, members of the DC Council and United States Congress — just to name a few,” Margeson wrote in an e-mail.
The historic hall includes 3,500 square feet of space but also comes with an outdoor area along Farmer’s Line Shed. Prices for renting the space depend on the event, the number of attendees and the day of the week. For example, the cheapest way to rent the space is for a three-hour class between Tuesday and Friday with fewer than 200 people in the building; that costs just $40. At the other end of the spectrum, however, a private event held at night during the week or during the day on a weekend with more than 400 people costs $5,100.
Andrea Mietus has planned events in the District since 1987, and she was among the first to plan an event in the renovated North Hall last September. A special events coordinator with Center Stage (which often works with Democratic groups), Mietus planned a simple affair welcoming the New Democrat Coalition back to Washington following Labor Day.
“It’s hard to find space on the Hill, and you feel like you do the same places over and over again,” she said, adding that she has also planned events at Good Stuff Eatery and Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Mietus said the North Hall tends to be less expensive than other venues because she can bring in her own caterer and doesn’t have to accommodate a food and beverage minimum. For the New Democrat event, she only needed to put together a buffet in the center of the room and then add flowers around the room.
“It’s a blank canvas,” she said. “You have the opportunity to really do something unique.”
Center Stage is planning another event similar to the one last year this September at the North Hall.
Others have held political fundraisers at Eastern Market, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time database, which tracks political fundraising events. Among them were a “Welcome Back to Congress” fundraiser that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee held in January and a couple of receptions that benefited Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.). The most recent was a fundraiser that Rep. Michael McCaul held in March. The Texas Republican invited the Austin-based Band of Heathens to perform, and Jana Chovanec, senior partner and executive producer at House of Rock Communications, helped with audio and visual elements of the concert.
“We need places like this,” she said, exalting in Eastern Market’s friendly neighborhood atmosphere. “There’s nowhere else where you can walk and talk to people.”