The Little Mekong Night Market is coming to St. Paul on June 14, from 5-10 p.m. Common in Southeast Asia and throughout the United States, night markets are similar to traditional farmer’s markets, but they include more food and entertainment, offering visitors the opportunity to stroll and enjoy the sights and sounds at a more leisurely pace.
Although there are other farmer’s markets in the Twin Cities, the night market’s focus on local restaurants and crafts will bring a unique experience to the Twin Cities. Kia Kehrer, special projects manager for the Asian Economic Development Association says that the market will be similar in some ways to Mill City Market, but will operate at night.
The Little Mekong district is sponsored by the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) as part of a larger effort to promote the businesses in the area between Mackubin and Galtier streets in St. Paul, which is home to a flourishing business community. It’s named for the river that connects many of the countries and cultures of Southeast Asia.
The night market is located between Mai Village and Little Sichuan on University Avenue. The market will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. on June 14, July 5, July 26, August 16, and September 6. Admission is free.
In addition to the market, AEDA intends to make the Little Mekong Plaza available for public art and events. Kehrer says that the plaza and the market will benefit the larger community by activating a public space to bring people together: “We bring community and tourists together, creating a destination… people want to keep coming back to. It’s really activating the space, creating a safe space because not a lot of people think the area is safe.” She adds that she hopes the project will create a chain reaction and more people will be inspired to use public space in creative ways.
The 50 night market vendors will include farmers, food, and arts and crafts from throughout the Twin Cities. Despite the focus on businesses in Little Mekong, Kehrer particularly stresses that all vendors are welcome, not just those from the Asian community. Vendors are welcome to apply by visiting the AEDA’s office at 377 University Avenue.
Ericka Trinh’s Silhouette Bakery will have a booth at the market. Trinh, also the owner of Anh’s Hairstylists, plans to sell cupcakes and cookies, and a mix of Asian and European treats. Trinh is an active supporter of the Little Mekong community and she hopes that “having a fun new attraction to Little Mekong will bring more exposure to an area that people might have passed by without realizing it.”
The opening of the Central Corridor Light Rail line is creating new possibilities for an area that is often overlooked. AEDA hopes that the Night Market will bring people to the Little Mekong District, and that they will continue to come back.
“We hope that that they’ll connect with the area, that they’ll continue coming back after the night market’s done. It’s also an initiative to get our small business in the area vending at the market so that it kind of attracts people to come back,” says Kehrer.
The market will open at 5 p.m. on June 14, following a celebration of the Western Avenue Light Rail Station’s grand opening.
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.