‘Jade District’ Night Market draws crowds to the Avenue of the Roses

Find out why this market changed its dates – and its location. But that didn’t keep people away …

The “Jade District Night Market” bustles with activity, as throngs find their way to its new location – the Fubonn Shopping Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Like others who contacted us about the inaugural “Jade District Night Market”, promoted in the East Portland News Community Calendar, we were puzzled to find the campus of Portland Community College Southeast Center dark and empty when we visited to do a story on their first event, on August 9.

Word then leaked out that the first market, put on by the Jade District Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI) organization, would actually take place on August 23, and would instead be located at the Fubonn Shopping Center parking lot, at 2850 SE 82nd Avenue of Roses. The markets then continued for three more Saturday nights, through September 13.

Jade District Communications Associate Luann Algoso and Jade District Manager Todd Struble welcome folks to the Night Market.

“Welcome to our second Night Market,” said Jade District NPI Manager Todd Struble.

“Last week was the first night we held a market,” Struble told East Portland News on August 30. “We were hoping 500 people would come; but about 6,000 people ended up showing up. If you’re going to have a problem; this is a good problem to have.”

Struble acknowledged that, with no street parking, and with limited parking spaces in the shopping center, the Night Market had pushed traffic and vehicle parking into the neighborhood streets on either side of the avenue.

This time of year, Chinese “Moon Cakes” are a popular item sold by vendors.

“We know this caused parking and traffic issues,” Struble admitted. “We are working with our partners at Portland Community College Southeast Center to help mitigate parking problems. We’ve asked people to park over there and walk back here to the market.”

However, only about a dozen vehicles were parked in the PCC SE Center lot – three long, uphill blocks away from the venue. Instead, vehicles of all descriptions were seen parked, partially in neighbors’ yards, along SE 80th and 81st Avenues, because of the narrow streets and no sidewalks.

Crowds of visitors browse vendors’ wares at the Night Market.

Struble said it took the organization longer than expected to arrange the event, which had delayed the start; and, they’d decided to shift the venue to the shopping center, because the college doesn’t allow alcohol to be served on campus, and they wanted to have a beer garden.

Notwithstanding these issues, this Night Market successfully attracted thousands of folks, week after week.

“We have about 25 vendors at our markets,” Struble said. “And, we have performers from different cultures here on our stage, as well.”

Members of the colorful Orgullo Morelense Cernaiac dance group entertain, representing the Hispanic community.

This event was important to the Jade District, Struble opined, because it fulfilled desires of the community they serve.

“This Night Market is the result of feedback from five different community groups,” Struble said. “These ‘visioning boards’ are part of our ‘Visioning Process’, in which we separately met with Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking communities.

“One of the things that we saw was the watercolor an artist painted of a Jade District Night Market; what we have here is this idea, coming to life,” Struble added.

Sysouphanh Somgong and her co-workers from Paitong Thai Cuisine serve hungry customers.

“Then, we brought them all together and saw that there was a lot of overlap in what the communities are interested in – specifically, the Night Market,” Struble said. “So, what we did was connect with the local community, and implement projects and events that they want to see.”

Another lesson learned from the first Night Market, he said, is that the vendors came better prepared. “Last week, they ran out of food surprisingly early. But as you can see, there’s plenty of food available for sale here tonight.”

About 40 volunteers were on hand to help out inside the Night Market – and on the street as well, directing traffic.

About to dine “al fresco” at the Jade District Night Market are Rachel Novick and Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick.

“I came out here because I knew there’d be great food, lots of hustle and bustle,” Novick said. “This is a great addition to the community. My wife wanted to come by, especially for the food!”

This looked to be the case for all people attending the Jade District Night Market, who enjoyed themselves as part of the bustling throng.

On our Front Page: Offering Chinese-style lanterns at the Jade District Night Market are volunteers Jean Sung and Pamela Bejerano.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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