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Wichita's Asian Night Market is looking to expand following success of inaugural event

Scott Huynh
Courtesy photo
Thirty vendors will sell food and drink from nearly two dozen countries at this year's Asian Night Market.

Organizers are moving this year's event to a larger venue and are adding more vendors and activities.

Inspired by the late-night bazaars of Asia, Wichita's Asian Night Market is a collaboration between several local Asian-American organizations.

Last year's inaugural event took place at Naftzger Park. It was expected to attract 3,000 people but ended up drawing more than three times that.

Scott Huynh
Courtesy photo
Last year's Wichita Asian Night Market drew 10,000 people to Naftzger Park.

This year, organizers are moving the event to Riverfront Stadium in hopes of alleviating long lines. The venue change also provides more space for activities.

Kathy Pham is part of the event’s organizing committee. She says the event is a way to bring people from different backgrounds together.

"We're trying to draw the Asian Night Market for a community where there is a lot of Asian people in Wichita, but giving them an opportunity to maybe have a taste of what they used to have back home or just introducing culture that people may have not experienced here in Wichita," she says.

This year the event will have more than 50 vendors, a 20 percent increase from last year. Of those, 30 will sell food and drink from nearly two dozen countries.

However, the event’s organizers want to offer more than just a culinary experience. Manasi Kulkarni, with the Wichita Asian Association, says the Asian Night Market is building upon last year's successful turnout.

"This year we wanted to make it bigger and better and so that's the reason we are introducing more activities," she says. "There will be a community art project as well that the people can participate in."

That community art project, which is a tree display where attendees can attach written messages as leaves, will be constructed by local artist Sarah Myose.

There will also be cultural performances, a DJ spinning, a movie screening and a Pokémon GO event.

Some vendors who had great success at last year's event are hoping that continues. Luz Agguire owns Macchi's Taiyaki, which makes a fish shaped-waffle that is usually filled with red bean paste.

Scott Huynh
Courtesy photo
Luz Aguirre and Jerry Yang operate Macchi's Taiyaki — a business that specializes in a fish-shaped waffle treat.

She says one of the problems last year was the long lines. She thinks the venue change will help her better serve anybody who wants to try her sweet and savory treat.

"We had to reject people last year, sadly," she says. "But we are hoping that this year ... since it's a bigger venue ... we would just ... bring in orders and take 'em out as fast as we can and having a nice steady line and having people come and enjoy our foods."

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Kulkarni says she sees the event as a way to unite Wichita's diverse Asian population.

"What I'm hoping for is that it not only brings just the Asian people together to celebrate and kind of enjoy an evening out, but also the whole community as such to come together and enjoy some of the festivities," she says.

The Wichita Asian Night Market will take place at Riverfront Stadium on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 through Friday. General admission the day of the event is $10.

Hugo Phan is a Digital News Reporter at KMUW, and founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. After years of being a loyal listener, he signed up to be a KMUW volunteer and joined the station's college student group before becoming a digital assistant in 2013.