Main Street in downtown Merced was bursting with life for the first “Mercado” event of the season last Wednesday, May 5th.
The farmers market-style celebration — held on the Cinco de Mayo holiday — featured vendors, dancers, artists and other entertainment. Canal Street and Main Street were blocked off to oncoming traffic as residents enjoyed an evening of shopping and socializing.
With the Mercado, the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hopes to stimulate the local economy and give residents a fresh new venue to socialize and have fun. Future markets are planned for the first Thursday of every month through October.
“For a moment, I had to stop and just look around at everyone’s faces,” said Annissa Fragoso, the Chamber president. “When I went on the podium to talk to the people — that was something. I wanted them to know, ‘Hey we did this for you. We all worked really hard to provide this event for you. We did it for downtown, we did it for the vendors, we did it for the people, and for the arts.’ And that’s why I asked the crowd, “Is everyone having a good time?”
The event was considered a huge success. Vendors and informational booths were lined along Main and Canal streets as Bob Hart Square housed an open-air art show featuring the work of local photographers, Roger Wyan and Glen Camarda. Classic cars were parked out front of the Regal theater and in new vertical parking places in front of the cinema.
Kreepy Kawaii hosted an “Art Remate” right outside the doors of their shop featuring vendors, an artists highlight, and “Community Chaos” an interactive art session with Goku the Pink King. Canvases surrounded Goku as he handed out paint and encouragement to residents who were participating.
Fruita Loca served up with fruit, corn, and “aguas frescas,” as the temperature hit a high of 98.
“Our first time joining the Merced’s Mercado downtown was such a welcoming experience,” said Katlynn Berber, part owner of Fruita Loca. “There were so many vendors. Everyone came out to support one another. We are so grateful to our community and you will definitely see us at the next Mercado. I would like to give the Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce a big thank you for having us!”
“The event exceeded our expectations,” said Elisa Trevino, the chamber’s vice president. “We knew it was going to be a great turn out. We just didn’t know it was going to be that great of a turnout. Everybody is looking forward to coming back again. And that was a lot of the hopes that we had. To bring the community together and to help small and local businesses out. We succeeded in that part.”
The evening of June 3 will mark the second Mercado. Beginning at 6 p.m., residents can expect to see more vendors, booths, entertainment, dances, cars, artists, and a fun evening for the entire family.
Vendor and entertainment space is still open to those who wish to apply.
“It’s going to be another nice surprise!” Fragoso said. “We are still encouraging people to reach out to us. We want to showcase different entertainers and performers. We have five more events to go and many stages to fill.”