"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”  

Jane Jacobs

Little Mekong Night Market

The fourth annual Little Mekong Night Market was held this past weekend. The market is a mix of food, art, music, and cultural performances located in the heart of the Little Mekong District at Western Avenue and University Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Last year an estimated 18,000 people attended which appeared to have been surpassed this year. The market collaborated their event with Northern Spark, an all-night art event with the theme “Climate Chaos People Rising.” While Northern Spark runs from 9 pm until 5 am, the Little Mekong Night Market is a two-day event, starting at 5 pm and ending at midnight on Saturday and 10 pm on Sunday.

Crowd of attendees at the Little Mekong Night Market.

Crowd of attendees at the Little Mekong Night Market.

Little Mekong is the Asian business and cultural district of Saint Paul. It derives its name from the Mekong River, which connects the cultures of Southeast Asia as it flows from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) is committed to developing the area around this district as a destination for visitors and residents alike.

Area for the market activities. The blue dot is where the entertainment stage was and the food vendors were behind Little Szechuan.

Area for the market activities. The blue dot is where the entertainment stage was and the food vendors were behind Little Szechuan.

The various food vendors at the market offer a wide range of unique meals. The mango sticky rice and the chicken curry were packed with delicious flavors. The compost cookie tied into the environmental theme of Northern Spark, while the water cake offered a more cultural experience.

 A small sampling of the dozens of delicious food vendors.

 A small sampling of the dozens of delicious food vendors.

All ages, ranging from children to adults, attended the event that offered activities for everyone. One table offered Hmong stamp tattoos which you could read about along with artist information on the posters nearby. A printing press was creating and hanging sings reading “melt,” “water,” “ocean,” and other words to raise awareness for climate change.

One of the booths seeking to raise awareness about climate change.

One of the booths seeking to raise awareness about climate change.

The event successfully drew in a large, diverse crowd and raised awareness for the district and the cultural traditions of those that live there. It is easy to see the time and effort on the part of the AEDA and vendors each year does not go to waste, as attendance to the event continues to grow. Cultural events like these are important because they educate citizens and break down barriers. They help start conversations and bring people together.