The Night Market Returns to Downtown Rochester in 2022 with an Expanded Schedule
When: July 2, July 16, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 27, Sept. 10, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: 307 E Center St, Rochester (the parking lot across the river from Mayo Field and across the street from the Civic Theatre)
Following a trio of immensely popular summer events in 2021, The Night Market is returning for 2022 with more dates and two locations.
Starting in July, markets will be held every other Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 307 E Center St, Rochester (the parking lot across the river from Mayo Field and across the street from the Civic Theatre). Up to 14 vendors will be at each event, on a rotating basis.
On Sept. 10, the final Night Market of the year will be held outside at Mayo Civic Center. The date for the big market is no accident; September 10 is Mid Autumn Festival (also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival), one of the largest holidays in Chinese and East Asian cultures.
The expanded schedule and more intimate venue brings the market more in alignment with the original vision of Night Market founder Tiffany Alexandria of CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW. If last year’s event showed the city the array of Asian culinary excellence here, this year’s events are meant to build sustainable, regular relationships between customers and BIPOC vendors.
“I want The Night Market to be an incubator. My goal is to cultivate vendors. Switching to smaller, more frequent events allows the vendors to be more successful. It also makes this more sustainable,” Alexandria says.
It’s a model that more closely resembles the night markets of Asia, where, every evening around sunset, venders coalesce around temples and popular city spots for unofficial, unorganized events called night markets, or, 夜市 (Yèshì). People of all ages gather after work to eat, shop, and enjoy themselves. Night markets feature street food, clothing vendors, daily necessities, occasional live entertainment, and, most importantly, street food.
“Last year, first-time event vendors like Dao See, Rebekah’s Caribbean Delights, and Thaipop wowed crowds with their Hmong-style egg rolls, fried plantains, and yum woon sen. This year’s emphasis on food is going to mean a lot more happy people holding Thai iced teas, freshly stuffed bánh mì, or steaming hot Taiwanese popcorn chicken(鹹酥雞)” says Alexandria.
Olmsted County requires street food vendors to have a specific permit in order to sell food. These permits come at a significant effort and expense for first time vendors, but allow them to sell at up to 10 events. Expanding the schedule allows vendors to take better advantage of their permits.
“We had three really successful events last year, but a lot of the first time vendors never found another venue to sell at after,” explains Alexandria. “The events are really for the vendors, and I want them to be able to do well.”
After last year, she received a lot of interest from people wanting to be vendors for the first time.
“I feel like this is the chance, now’s the time to help these startup businesses somehow help them start,” says Alexandria.
Last summer’s large events were so popular that many first time vendors found themselves swamped by crowds of customers. Alexandria has also received a lot of interest from people wanting to be vendors for the first time since, too.
To prepare the new vendors, Alexandria has enlisted the help of consultant Ming-Jinn Tong, a chef and intercultural consultant/founder of Cultivate. Ming-Jinn Tong is familiar with Asian cuisine, and has experience feeding it to big groups of people. His cooking school, Hot Wok Academy, which will teach people about Asian food, cuisines, and how to cook it in line with its culture of origin, opens this summer.
Tiffany of CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW was born and raised in Taiwan. She grew up visiting markets & night markets and is passionate about all things local. She enjoys introducing people to Asian culture, cuisines, and local businesses. The Night Market has been a dream & much discussed concept between Tiffany Alexandria, Amy Garretson & Naura Anderson, we’re turning this vision into reality in summer 2021.
The Night Market logo is designed by the ridiculously talented local designer/ artist/ muralist- Maggie Panetta!
The Chinese character in the logo is “夜” (YÈ), it means night and sounds like YAY!
If you’re looking for design work done, or a mural on your wall, check out Maggie’s portfolio HERE.