Live music, an open-air art gallery, a car show, Main Street shops and vendors galore are coming to Downtown Merced starting Wednesday, May 5 — or Cinco de Mayo, a day to celebrate Mexican-American culture and traditions.
The Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is calling it “The Mercado,” an outdoor marketplace along Main Street, from Martin Luther King Jr. Way to M Street, a portion of Canal Street, and all of Bob Hart Square, from 6 p.m to 10 p.m. The streets involved will be closed to vehicle traffic so residents can walk with ease across the center of downtown.
Subsequent Mercados will be held every first Thursday of the month through October. The event is also sponsored by MERCO Credit Union, Cultivad de Salud and the City of Merced.
“The Mercado is a space where residents can come out and safely listen to music, do some shopping at local stores, and interact with the local arts scene,” said Annissa Fragoso, president of the Hispanic Chamber.
Vendors will line up alongside Main St. and Canal. Bob Hart Square will host an open-air gallery showcasing the work of local artists in collaboration with the Multicultural Arts Center. Live music and entertainment will be staged outside the doors off the Merced Theater, Regal Hollywood Merced, and at designated areas throughout the market.
“We are encouraging everyone to wear their masks and social distance,” Fragoso said.
The goal of the open-air marketplace is to create traction and collaboration between artists, vendors, non-profits, small businesses, performers, and residents in a spread-out event — the likes of which have not been seen in the downtown area since the pandemic began over a year ago.
“We want to generate commerce,” Fragoso said. “We want to put small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores front and center to the public. We want to stimulate their economies.”
Live music and performances including spoken word from local poet Marcy Poe, traditional Aztec dance from Kalpulli Izkalli, a Danza Mexika group from Morgan Hill, and flamenco music from Robert Paul of the band Crashboat are scheduled for the first market.
Patricia Pratt of Kreepy Kawaii will be hosting an Art Remate right outside her doorsteps at 1731 Canal St. The remate will host the artwork of local artists Craft of Me, Thore, and live artwork from Goku. Sweets vendor, Sweet Tyme Bakes will also have treats available for sale at Kreepy Kawaii and Abracadabra.
Poets, artists, bands, small businesses, vendors, dancers, car collectors, nonprofits, community organizations and performers are encouraged to submit applications for any interest in future events. “The Mercado” is a space that is open to any and all music and artwork. There is still time and space available for those who would like to participate in the market for May 5th.
“If anyone is interested in showcasing any of their cars, artwork, performance talent, or any type of exhibition, they are encouraged to reach out to us by email,” Fragoso said. “We want every type of level-amateurs included. We want everyone and anyone to participate.”
Vendor space is still available for $25 for members of the Hispanic Chamber and $30 for nonmembers.