Weekend Market at Centennial Park continues to serve as opportunity for vendors, visitors alike

Also called the Peña Park Market, the weekly event appeared unaffected by new neighbors in the area
Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 8:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Weekend Market at Centennial Park, commonly referred to as the Peña Park Market, was held in Muldoon this weekend for the first time since the Municipality of Anchorage moved a group of at-risk residents into a municipality-backed homeless camp nearby.

Vendors at the market, however, say it’s business as usual.

“I didn’t really think much of it,” said vendor Xaviera Lee of the big move of dozens of homeless people to the same park in which the market is hosted. “It wasn’t a super big concern for me. Just because in general, in Anchorage, we run into homeless camps all the time....It’s not a surprise, but it hasn’t really affected us.”

The market, also sometimes called the Hmong Market, typically includes more than a dozen vendors, and features locally-grown produce and authentic Hmong, Thai and Fijian foods each weekend. Its return comes after the Municipality of Anchorage shut down the city’s mass homeless shelter at the Sullivan Arena last week. With that closure now official, many of the people who were staying at the Sullivan were shuttled to the Centennial Park Campground, a space the MOA hastily repurposed as a place for the homeless.

Still, those who have been buying and selling at the weekly market there returned this weekend for the first time since the changeover and seemed optimistic.

Lee, who said she has been manning a family-run booth with her sister-in-law over the last three years, was mostly selling Asian vegetables such as bok choy and cilantro. She is among those involved with the market who have a positive outlook and said she will continue to sell at the seasonal market event, which continues through September.

“Homelessness is an issue in general in Anchorage,” Lee said. “It’s very unfortunate that it is an issue.”

The Peña Park Market is located on Starview Dr. at Peña Field, which is within Centennial Park. The Peña Park Market Facebook page says it is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or until vendors have sold out.

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