A Taste of Culture

By Mathieu Lebreton
By Mathieu Lebreton

The unyielding chattering increased in volume as the crowd grew larger. Mothers yelled at their children to stop running around. Families pushed through the crowd to get on the lines. Everyone came for the taste of the mouthwatering foods prepared in the tents set up in the market.

The Queens International Night Market takes place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturdays, from 6pm to midnight. It’s a new market that features independent vendors who show aspects of different cultures through food, art, merchandise, and performances. Recently, however, the market has been experiencing a lot of problems that make it difficult to keep the night market running.

According to the New York Times, John Wang, the man behind the Queens International Night Market, initially noticed that New York City did not have a night market. Other cities such as Taipei, Bangkok, and Marrakesh, already had a stable and successful night market.

Hoping to have a successful night market open in New York City, John Wang quit his job as a lawyer and started to raise money for the night market on Kickstarter. The initial goal of the fundraiser was to raise $100,000. It did not succeed, instead making only $14,000.

According to the website The Massive Invasion, “John Wang and his team were unable to secure their initial planned location, surrounding the world famous Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park.” However, through private funding, John Wang was able to hold the night market on April 25th 2015 in the parking lot of the New York Hall of Science, which is also in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Thousands of people attended the inaugural of the night market (Gothamist). In a review on the website Yelp, dated April 25th, Hi L. said the “The night market is a good idea but unorganized! There were plenty of space and vendors were right on top of each other. The lines were tremendously long, you had to wait at least 40 minutes from each vendor.”

A man, who wishes to remain anonymous, lives in the area where the night market is held and he said, “It was extremely crowded. I intended to go to the market on the first night. However, my family and I left after seeing the huge crowd and not being able to get any food.”

According to a woman who posted on the night market’s facebook page, she attended the night market multiple times saw visible improvements as John Wang and his team tried to fix issues that they noticed. These issues included problems with lighting, electricity, and the long lines.

Simon, who lives in Queens, said, “I want to go visit the Night Market but I heard that even though it’s improved a lot since it first opened, it’s still crowded and the lines are still very long.”

However, the Queens International Night Market was not open in June due to the lack of funding. Another fundraiser was started on Kickstarter with the goal of $50,000. It also failed to raise enough money, raising only $10,000. Scraping just enough, the market was open again on July 11.

In the fundraiser video, John Wang said, “We don’t want to raise our vendor fees because that would cause them to raise their prices for our visitors.” In addition, there is no admission fee for the night market. John Wang and his team hopes that people will come to enjoy the cultural experience without paying so much.

Despite the difficulties the market is facing, thousands of people still attend every Saturday. For the 8th of August, a vendor map set up on the Queens Night Market website shows 40 food vendors and multiple art and merchandise vendors, as well as a few performances and a hula hoop contest.

Among the vendors, there are many different foods varying from Ecuadorian juices, fried nutella, takoyaki,  Filipino bibingkas, to Korean pancakes and ho-dduk. In addition, the website listed many incoming vendors such as Caribbean Street Eats, Pancake Rolls, and Cassey’s Cookies and Cobblers.

With thousands of people visiting the night market, it has become popular. However, there are only a few days left of the night market.

According to a team member of the Night Market, August 15 will be “ last Saturday @nysci before we take a mini break and start in Jamaica…Starting September 5th, our new location will be on 168th Street and 90th Avenue in Jamaica, right next door to the Central Library and the NYPD Precinct, and is easily accessible from the F train and E train.”

So, if anyone’s interested in visiting the Queens Night market, there’s just one more day left. If anyone is excited about experiencing the market, but can not attend on the 15th, there will be a chance starting in September.