Fri 6/21 @ 5-11PM
There’s no doubt night festivals make sense with people gathering for music and food. However, the idea of staging a night market featuring more than a hundred vendors, along with food and music, is something altogether different.
So in 2014 when organizers decided to create Night Market Cleveland for the Rockwell Avenue & East 21st Street area, they legitimately had no idea how it would be received.
“It started as a joint project between Campus District and St. Clair-Superior Community Development Corporation,” Night Market Cleveland Secretary Josh Maxwell said.
“AsiaTown is geographically split between the two CDC (community development districts). They went to the AsiaTown community and asked them what they would like to see more of in terms of representation for the community.”
The feedback received suggested the AsiaTown community would love to see the concept of night markets, which are popular in Asia, brought to Cleveland. It turned out Northeast Ohio was ready for the unique event featuring street food, markets, local artisans, businesses, live entertainment and performances.
“It really developed into a stand-alone project that grew very quickly within the first couple of years,” Maxwell said. “We were experiencing rapid growth to the point where we had fully expanded into the footprint on Rockwell to host about 100 vendors and drawing in about 15,000 attendees per event. We were all very surprised it was very successful.”
One of the reasons why Maxwell feels Night Market Cleveland has proven to be a success has to do with the cultural melting pot of the area. The other aspect that’s unique is the fact it’s a night experience providing a completely different downtown Cleveland perspective.
After four successful summers in AsiaTown, Night Market Cleveland took last year off.
“In 2017, at the end of our third year, there was a ton of reinvigorated interest along Rockwell, specifically with property owner engagements and property purchases and investment,” Maxwell said. “The GBX Group moved into the corner of W. 21stStreet and Superior Avenue.
“They really led the charge of investing dollars into that area with several parking lots and parcels along Rockwell where they have completely redone, repaved, landscaped and re-installed lighting. The year we took off was really trying to work with the individual property owners to insure they had the time and space to create all of those updates and installations to the area.”
Instead of fighting construction last year, the decision was made for Night Markets Cleveland to go on hiatus. Now the popular event returns on a refreshed footprint.
The 2019 Night Market Cleveland kicks off June 21 at Rockwell Avenue and East 21st Street. The series include July 26, August 30 and September 27 dates.
Despite the year away, Maxwell promises those folks who previously attended Nigh Market Cleveland will find the event to be stronger than ever. Also, organizers are hoping to expand its presence in the area.
“It is the same Night Market event with a few updates here and there,” Maxwell said. “This year in particular we have decided to think a little bit differently about how Night Market serves the community.
“We’re working with Destination Cleveland and Hilton Hotels to create a hospitality program that serves both local and out-of-town guests. So we’re utilizing those partnerships and platforms to really market Cleveland, Asiatown and the Night Market experience as destinations for Clevelanders and outside guests.”
[Written by John Benson]