People clamor to get a popular liquid nitrogen dessert at the C-ID Night Market in September, 2018. That year, the market drew over 30,000 attendees • Photo by Danish Mehboob

One night this September, streets in the Chinatown International District (CID) will fill with food trucks, vendors, and performances, and possibly thousands of visitors. 

The C-ID Night Market is returning after it was temporarily canceled in 2023, now boosted by a $250,000 dollar commitment from Amazon announced February 6, which will fund the Night Market through 2026. 

The Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) produces the Night Market every year, in an effort to promote CID businesses and fundraise for the organization. Originating in China, night markets of this kind are popular in North America and around the world in Chinese diaspora communities. 

The C-ID Night Market started in 2006 and attracts thousands of visitors each year. 

Monisha Singh, executive director of the CIDBIA, said the Night Market — which is free to attend and open to the public — must at least pay for itself, and ideally provide a return on investment, to help fund the CIDBIA’s work in sanitation, public safety, small business support, and more in the CID. In 2023, this wasn’t going to happen due to rising costs and a shortage of sponsorships, and the organization had to cancel the event.

Taylor Hoang, Senior Community Engagement Manager for Seattle at Amazon, saw an opportunity for the company to step in after seeing the cancellation announcement on social media.

“The Night Market is an iconic tradition that shines a spotlight on Asian communities’ heritage and culture,” said Hoang in a statement. “We’re proud that our contribution will help strengthen the CID community and ensure that visitors can enjoy the arts, food and culture the Market brings each fall.”

Singh hopes the multi-year commitment from Amazon will help leverage more sponsorship funding, and send the message that the Night Market is intended to raise money for the CIDBIA’s work.

“It was an opportunity for us to use this money as a kind of a runway,” Singh said. “We’re seeing the basics that we need to produce the event, like insurance, rising at such a significant rate that it is really critical for us to be able to supplement in other ways.”

This year, the price of insurance for the CIDBIA’s February Lunar New Year celebration rose by 25% and the price of audiovisuals by 30% compared to last year, Singh said.

The Amazon funding will also allow the short-staffed CIDBIA to hire a salaried employee to handle communications, marketing and events for the organization. 

“Over the years, as we’ve seen sponsorships come down and prices and the cost of producing events significantly increase, it’s harder and harder to be able to retain staff or hire staff,” Singh said.

The Night Market usually features a mix of local CID businesses and outside vendors, and the CIDBIA encourages CID businesses to participate. It’s usually very difficult for these businesses to simultaneously vend at the Night Market and keep their brick and mortar locations open, Singh said, as it requires additional staff, equipment, and complex permitting.  

Still, Singh said the Night Market is an economic driver for the neighborhood. “We use these events to highlight the culture and the diversity in this neighborhood,” she said. “But it’s also an encouragement to folks to return, to come back at a different date.”

The CIDBIA’s annual Lunar New Year celebration will be held Saturday, February 24th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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