Jade District International Night Market dazzles again at Southeast Campus
As strings of lights illuminated the pathways of Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus, the fifth annual Jade District International Night Market was bustling. More than 90 vendors — including retailers, food sales and a beer garden — lined the paths crisscrossing the campus, and in the quad at the center, performers danced, sang, and drummed for the crowd of nearly 12,000.
PCC’s Southeast Campus hosts the Jade Night Market on back-to-back Saturdays every August, with this year’s taking place Aug. 18 and Aug. 25. The event is free and open to the public, with parking onsite free of charge.
“It’s wonderful to see a community event like the Jade Night Market explode in popularity over just five years,” said Todd Struble, manager of the Jade District — a program of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon that organizes the event.
“It’s dramatically different than our first year, which was about 20 vendors in the Fubonn parking lot. Now, the market serves as an important venue to showcase small local businesses in one of the most diverse areas in the city,” he said.
Portland’s Jade District centers around the intersection of Southeast Division Street and 82nd Avenue where the campus is located. It is home to one of the most highly concentrated Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the city, in addition to Latino, Slavic and African American communities.
The idea for a marketplace was born from a series of visioning workshops. Organizers at APANO wanted to develop an outdoor event where neighbors could gather together and share their culture and food with each other and the community at large.
“From the beginning, the Jade District Steering Committee has centered its mission on rooting this community,” said Struble. “Our goal is that folks who live and work around Southeast 82nd and Division have a stable and healthy community that reflects their culture and values. The night market helps connect the businesses and residents in a way that does this.”
After its first year, APANO turned to PCC for help with the event venue and logistics. Since 2015, the Southeast Campus has hosted the market, with last year’s attracting approximately 25,000 attendees over the two days.
“Our partnership with PCC Southeast is crucial to the event’s success, and we greatly appreciate the support from campus leadership,” said Struble.
Students, staff and faculty from PCC participate in the night market, too, cementing the campus’ role as a community hub and helping ensure a welcoming environment.
“It is an honor and delight to host the Jade International Night Market each year, an event celebrating the diversity of the community we are privileged to serve every day,” said Jessica Howard, president of the Southeast Campus. “The event highlights in spectacular fashion the cultural richness of Southeast Portland and the deep spirit of partnership shared by PCC Southeast and APANO.”
The market offered some celebrity power, too, with State Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (District 46) joining Howard onstage to greet her constituents. Meanwhile, Lucy Lin, a vendor with Jasmine Giftshop, was excited to offer her wares at the market, which included intricately embroidered wallets, shoes, and fans.
“I love this campus,” Giftshop said. “It is so welcoming here.”
And Anita Phomma, a PCC student leader whose first experience with the Jade Night Market was this year’s event, echoed Lins’ comments.
“I love it!” she said. “I get to experience all the cultures. There are so many dances. And the food is so good!”
Part two of the Jade Night Market takes place this coming Saturday, Aug. 25, from 5-10 p.m.
“So no worries if you didn’t make it last weekend because there’s another night to have fun, with a completely new lineup of performers,” said Amy Bader, interim community relations manager for the Southeast Campus. “The Jade District International Night Market showcases and celebrates the true spirit of community here in the Jade District, and we feel so fortunate to be able to support this celebration.”