Richmond Night Market organizer Raymond Cheung says the 2021 Richmond Night Market will have a short season, but afford patrons an opportunity to enjoy its many attractions in a safe environment.
Photo by Chung Chow
Richmond Night Market opening July 23
By Don Fennell
Published 11:19 PDT, Mon July 19, 2021
Popular attraction celebrating 20 years
When the Richmond Night Market closed for the season Oct. 14, 2019, excitement for the 2020 campaign was already building.
Organizer Raymond Cheung, whose foresight to start the initial market in 2000 led to it becoming one of the biggest annual attractions in Richmond, had no way of knowing it would be close to two years before he could even begin thinking about re-opening. The global COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruptions and forced ventures like Cheung’s to cease operating.
“Everyone has their own story, but for us it felt like I was hit by a dump truck from nowhere,” he says. “The impact was, of course, indescribable. Just because of the nature of our business, being seasonal and counting on a large volume of people, all the elements added up. We couldn’t do anything except sit and wait and see when the storm was over.”
That hundreds of vendors depend on the market for their livelihoods has only added to the chagrin.
But finally there appears to be light at the end of what has been a long, dark tunnel.
With the province recently entering the third phase of a four-step reopening plan focused on protecting people and safely getting life back to “normal,” Cheung is excited to be working toward what he terms “a short season” for the Richmond Night Market. Plans are afoot to open July 23 and be open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 6. The night market would normally run May through October.
It will be a scaled back version of the usual night market though, with an emphasis on safety.
“We want it to be a good and safe season, even if it is shorter, and provides at least a chance for 23 days for the public to come back and catch up on a missing year,” says Cheung, who is hoping it will serve as a positive springboard to next year and beyond.
Though COVID-19 case numbers are declining in B.C., Cheung believes it is important to remain vigilant. The 2021 Richmond Night Market will still have many of its popular features and vendors, but not at usual numbers. And there will be significantly more space to ensure physical distancing.
“We want to make sure when people come here they will feel safe,” he explains. “We’re creating lots of open areas, about four times more space than what would be usual, so that after people get their food they can sit down and feel comfortable. It will be kind of like going to English Bay or a park. There will be lots of people but distance between groups.”
Cheung will also be encouraging people to wear face masks—ideally at all times, but certainly in lineups. Masks will be available on site for anyone who wants one, he says.
As well, security and staff will monitor the number of people in the market at all times. If congestion appears to be happening, entry will be limited until space frees up.
A significant increase in open space in front of the stage will enable safe viewing of the entertainment that is a mainstay at the market.
Recognizing the market won’t have all its usual attractions, or be open for a full season, admission will be reduced this year to between $3 and $3.50 per person.
But just having the Richmond Night Market resuming operations—even if for a shorter than normal period this summer—is an encouraging sign for the future. One residents and visitors alike have been yearning for.