A Night in the Sunset

The thousands of people in attendance could hardly walk without stepping on each other’s heels. Photo courtesy of Samantha Avila Griffin

As the sun set on the Sunset District last Friday night, an estimated 10,000 people gathered on Irving Street to attend the first ever Sunset Night Market. Walking between 20th and 23rd Avenues, attendees visited 77 vendor stalls, which sold all sorts of food, like freshly cooked meat, dumplings, and noodles, and other goods.

Shops like Sam’s Gourmet Jams, Cheekytweethart, and Every- thing You See Jewelry sold artisanal jams, original art prints and stickers, and customizable jewelry. Lines extended down the block for food stalls like KPop Chicken and Gumbo Social, among many others.
The night featured performances from local artists and dance groups, including the bands Dumpster Love and 19th Avenue Road-works, who played on the mainstage in the final hours of the evening. Children waited their turn on the market’s inf latable slide, and people of all ages had hula hooping competitions and made art at craft stations.

The night market was funded in part by a $50,000 grant from San Francisco nonprofit Avenue Green Light, according to KQED. Night markets could become more popular in California following the proposal of Assembly Bill 441, proposed by Assemblymember Matt Haney with the intent to help streamline the permitting process for night markets, which can be a long and arduous endeavor.

Supervisor Joel Engardio helped launch the event with the inten- tion of building community in the Sunset, according to the San Fran- cisco Chronicle. The market was the first in the Sunset District and took inspiration from night markets in Taiwan, which are known for their “xiaochi,” or small eats, and are a place for citizens and tourists to enjoy nightlife and try new foods.

San Francisco local, Jason Wu, who uses the stage name DRAG- ON OF THE WEST, rapped and breakdanced on the dance stage at Irving and 21st. “It’s so great seeing all these people come together, especially in these times,” he said onstage. “My workplace is helping out run the event, and it’s just so great to see everyone in one place.”

Carol Lau is director of operations at Sunset Mercantile and a San Francisco native. “I remember going to Irving a lot when I was younger, it was a lot livelier back then… there was a place for us to go at nighttime, to hang out with our friends and be safe. I go now and it’s really dead and quiet. It’s kind of sad to see that that’s happened,” she said. “Sunset Mercantile’s goal is to revitalize and bring
more people out here.”
Angie Petitt, founder and producer of Sunset Mercantile said, “The night market could be a helpful tool to bringing people to the merchant corridors.” Petitt described the event as a “multicultural celebration” with a “focus on Sunset District businesses.”

Mia Echivarre-Morelli, a senior engineering major, was one of many in attendance. “It was great being able to see the community come to support all the shops on Irving.”

While many vendors were sold out by the end of the evening, the food truck for Sunrise Deli was one of the few who had enough food to last through the end of the night. In a statement to the Foghorn they
said, “[it] felt like the whole city descended on our block for the night.” As the event wound down, many patrons stayed to see 19th Avenue Roadworks perform their last song, and vendor booths looked barren after the surge of people who spent the previous hours exploring the stalls. While this was the only Sunset Night Market that will take place this year, coordinators have the intention of bringing monthly night market to the Sunset in 2024.


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