Night markets in major Southeast Asian cities offer street food and a vibrant scene to revelers looking for cheap eats at all hours of the night. After dark, Federal Boulevard is like one long night market for cruisers looking for Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese or Mexican food. But a true night market is best experienced on foot, when the aromas of cooking and the energy of the crowd can be experienced up close.
Denver's Little Saigon, stretching from West Louisiana Avenue to West Alameda Avenue on South Federal Boulevard, is packed with places offering international cuisine, but most people arrive in cars, while pedestrians and bus riders face wide, dangerous intersections and speeding traffic.
Several Denver organizations have banded together to host the Little Saigon Night Market, a one-night street party from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 21, at the Asia Center shopping center on South Federal Boulevard between Mississippi and Tennessee avenues. The night market is part of the Friends of Little Saigon initiative launched by WalkDenver and West Denver Renaissance Collaborative, whose goals include beautifying the neighborhood, focusing on pedestrian access and safety, and advocating for small businesses.
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Little Saigon Night Market will include food and other goods from fifteen local vendors, live music from Los Mocochetes, Aztec and dragon dancers, and face painting and a bouncy castle for the kids, among other attractions. There will also be a pho-eating contest and samples of rare fruits from Saigon Supermarket (1076 South Federal Boulevard). Street artist Ratha Sok is creating a sidewalk mural on Mississippi that will be finished in time for the festival. And four kids' bikes will be given away, thanks to Wish for Wheels.
The strip will be turned into "a one-day demonstration project that will use low-cost materials to test out designs that could be installed more permanently in the future, including wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and landscaping," according to WalkDenver. Cindy Ambs of WalkDenver explains that the ultimate mission is to create an official business improvement district under Denver's BID program, so property and business owners are being enlisted to support the cause.
"We're highlighting the cultural aspects of this corridor," she says, "and we want to be able to maintain and improve things rather than just [paying for] a one-time fix."
Come out for a vibrant taste of the neighborhood while supporting Little Saigon businesses as well as safer sidewalks and bus stops for those who walk and take public transportation.