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.
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
IN THE CROWD AND AT THE VENDOR STANDS
ILLARI PERU WITH MARIUSKA CASTANEDA, PERUVIAN DANCE
BACK IN THE CROWD
ABOVE AND BEYOND THE MARKETPLACE