In Beaverton, a little night market

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE CANTRELL


On a clear warm Saturday evening at The Round in Beaverton, the joint was jumpin’. The propulsive sounds of drums and dancing feet were rising to the sky, and a big crowd was milling about the curved concrete of this suburban city-center-in-the-making. People were checking out jewelry or fabrics at the rows of market stalls, stopping for a quick snack, blowing bubbles, skipping rope, sitting down to get a little artistic inking on the forearm, even hopping up front with the musicians and breaking into a spot of foot-stomping with the band.

It was Beaverton Night Market, the first of two this summer, a celebratory gathering of the cultures in one of the most diverse and fast-growing areas of Oregon. Washington County, to the west of downtown Portland, is home to a surprising stew of suburban housing, high-tech corridors and agricultural areas, and also to a vibrant variety of communities with roots in India, Central and South America, the Middle East, Native America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and elsewhere, creating a rich blend of cultures and traditions. Beaverton Night Market, a project of the city’s Diversity Advisory Board, began in 2015 and now attracts something in the neighborhood of 14,000 visitors each summer.

Faces in the crowd from around the globe.

It’s easy to see – and hear – why. Saturday night’s performances on two stages featured Chinese dragon dance; Bollywood dance; traditional Andean music; flamenco, classical Thai, and Peruvian dance; Ghanaian dancing and drumming. You could get South Korean, Hmong, Filipino, Japanese, Cambodian, Salvadoran, authentic Mexican, Liberian, Somali, Swedish, Nigerian, Senegalese, Lebanese, Persian, Algerian, Belgian, vegan Cuban food – even Chinese hand-spun cotton candy. You could check out Afghani embroidery, Pakistani beaded handbags, Turkish nomadic rugs. And if you missed it on Saturday night, don’t worry, it’ll all be back at The Round on August 17.

The gifted photographer Joe Cantrell, himself a Beavertonian, dropped down to The Round with his cameras and started snapping, capturing not only the performing groups but also the people in the crowds and the vendors and the whole surging scene. He stayed until the sun dropped down, and headed home with a fat portfolio of images documenting the energy and innovation and sheer happiness of the night.

He also came home with this story to tell:

“I understand that the Beaverton Night Market was inspired by some enlightened soul from the city polling a group of immigrants. ‘What do you miss most from your country, your culture?’ The favorite answer was, ‘The smells of the food, the night markets where we could sit in the cooling dusk visiting with our community, sharing what we enjoyed most there.’

“This exactly mirrors my own years abroad, mostly in Southeast Asia; the food carts and nightly-blocked streets in many cities and towns. It felt like paradise in retrospect, while the local beers helped over rough spots. In early 1971 I felt that my family, village, country had deserted me while I served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy. I did not move back to the U.S. until 1986. My saviors were the cordial, generous, compassionate people (almost) everywhere I went. It was the same for many of us. This was a chance to go home to that, and Beaverton delivered as it has for several years. 

“Thank you, brothers and sisters of every hue and whim. Come home with us.”

Just a little bit of what Joe saw:


NII ARDEY ALLOTEY & EKOME, GHANAIAN DRUMMING AND DANCE

Sponsor


IN THE CROWD AND AT THE VENDOR STANDS



ILLARI PERU WITH MARIUSKA CASTANEDA, PERUVIAN DANCE



BACK IN THE CROWD



ABOVE AND BEYOND THE MARKETPLACE


A heartbeat away on a warm clear evening, Mt. Hood looms to the east as seen from the parking garage near the market …
… and as the music and dancing and shopping and visiting draw to a close, the sun sinks over the horizon to the west.

About the author

I spent my first 21 years in Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, assuming that except for a few unfortunate spots, ‘everybody’ was part Cherokee, and son of the soil. Volunteered for Vietnam because that’s what we did. After two stints, hoping to gain insight, perhaps do something constructive, I spent the next 16 years as a photojournalist in Asia, living much like the lower income urban peasants and learning a lot. Moved back to the USA in 1986, tried photojournalism and found that the most important subjects were football and basketball, never mind humankind. In 1992, age 46, I became single dad of my 3-year-old daughter and spent the next two decades working regular jobs, at which I was not very good, to keep a roof over our heads, but we made it. She’s retail sales supervisor for Sony, Los Angeles. Wowee! The VA finally acknowledged that the war had affected me badly and gave me a disability pension. I regard that as a stipend for continuing to serve humanity as I can, to use my abilities to facilitate insight and awareness, so I shoot a lot of volunteer stuff for worthy institutions and do artistic/scientific work from our Cherokee perspective well into many nights. Come along!

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5 Responses

  1. wow! well done…and all in our little beaverton…west county, small stop…come out and play 😘

  2. Bless you Joe Cantrell for these astonishing images, so capturing the story, the hearts and souls of all embraced by your camera.

    Shout out to Beaverton City Councilor Mark Fagin, the ‘enlightened soul’ who worked with the Diversity Council to bring this event to life.

    And Beaverton in general, for being such a welcoming place for all these cultures to mingle and commune.

  3. Love Joe’s photos and story about the Beaverton Night Market. So refreshing to see images of people from different cultures mixing it up and having a wonderful time.

  4. What a marvelous event. Wish night market could be ongoing, and we would all get to know each other better.

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