International Night Market a big draw
The Jade District International Night Market is an annual celebration of food, entertainment and community organizing sponsored by the Jade District, a coalition of community entities near Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street.
This is the markets third year, and in 2016, it is large enough to be held on two successive Saturdays, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 20 and 27. It draws about 10,000 people each evening.
The essence of the Night Market, though, despite the Jade District designation, is its international character and composition. It is by no means limited to Asian or even Southeast Asian ethnicities The Jade District presents about 80 languages spoken at Portland Community College, and 40 at nearby Harrison Park School. African, Asian, Latin and pop communities are all represented in entertainment, food and vendors.
The Night Market has several interlocking goals. Mirroring its roots in China, it serves as an open-air market for everything from organic foodstuffs, spices and cooking ingredients to clothing, household supplies and ornaments. But this is in service to small-business solidarity and mutual support, and hence to developing the economic viability of the Jade District neighborhood. This, in turn, is considered to be the best barrier to gentrification and community dispersion, which was the fate of North and Northeast Portland, and to some extent Old Chinatown.
To accelerate this, diverse entertainment everything from traditional Chinese childrens dances and formal Indonesian folk-dances to cutting-edge hip-hop, African drumming and Mexican music filled the main stage from 5-10 p.m. A smaller stage near a beer garden presented Scottish fiddling, Chinese singing and belly dancing.
The infrastructure of the Night Market is a complex web of self-funding ( about 15 percent comes from fees and royalties paid by vendors), grant support from private foundations and individuals, and public monies from the Portland Development Commission. The Mercado Market initiative on Southeast Foster Road is an approximate analog in the Latin/Hispanic community, and the goals of economic development and community solidarity are similar. APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, is a major sponsor, as is VenturePortland, a small privately-funded socially active charitable foundation, and FamilyCare Health, which also supported the Asian Community Health Fair in the inner southeast. The Portland Chinese Times supported the event with publicity and photographic coverage.
The short-term plans for the Night Market include probable expansion southward from the south edge of the PCC campus, better traffic control during the hours of the market, a larger and more hospitable beer garden, and possibly a second illuminated stage. These may be in place as soon as next summer.
For now, though, the Night Market repeats on Aug. 27, probably with lower and more hospitable temperatures. Music, food and sales start at 5 p.m., and admission is free.