San Gabriel Valley’s 626 Night Market, an event inspired by the popular night markets in Asia, is returning for three weekends this summer at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
This weekend’s event, which will be housed at the racetrack’s Paddock Gardens on Saturday and Sunday, brings together more than 80 Asian street food vendors, 70 local merchandise vendors and local performance artists, organizers said. Additional activities such as film screenings, a dance floor and children’s activities will also be on site.
The event showcases the region’s “hidden” small businesses for non-Chinese speakers, said Jonny C. Hwang, who founded the 626 Night Market in April 2012 with his wife and a friend. Visitors are transported to the steaming food alleys of Asia and introduced to local businesses as well as first-time entrepreneurs and retail vendors.
Since their first venture, the event has grown in popularity with tens of thousands of visitors at each event, generating millions of dollars in transactions for local vendors, organizers said.
The night market’s popularity is driven by a generation of local Asian American youth who have helped rebrand the region’s cross-cultural, multi-generational identity. The debut event last year underestimated its popularity and drew more than 15,000 visitors to one block in Old Town Pasadena. The night market has since moved to the much larger location in Santa Anita Park.
“The 626 Night Market provides an exciting demographic to us here at Santa Anita,” said George Haines, Santa Anita’s president and general manager.
"We plan to fully utilize the new location to continue to be a platform for local businesses, emerging entrepreneurs, and now a place to showcase local artistic talent,” said Hwang, who added that the new Paddock Gardens setup “will be a unique combination that defines our event: an Asian night market in Los Angeles.”
The other night markets are July 6 and 7, and Aug. 3 and 4. Event hours are 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 4 to 10 p.m. on Sundays, and parking is free with admission of $2 before 6 p.m. and $3 after 6 p.m. Ages 12 years and younger are free.