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Baltimore brewery holds its first night market Saturday, celebrating Asian culture

Denis Sgouros, co-founder of the marketing agency UPPU, and Eddie O’Keefe, Vice President of Peabody Heights Brewery, pose for a photograph ahead of the first night market event at the brewery.

Eddie O’Keefe wasn’t sure he wanted folks to know that Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore was an Asian American-owned-and-operated business.

O’Keefe, whose mother is Korean, loves to support other Asian American-owned businesses in the area, but the vice president of the Charles Village brewery feared attracting attention to his business as hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“It seems like things are turning the corner, and for all the hate that exists in the world, there’s thousands of people that want to know and experience and be a part of our culture,” O’Keefe said. “That’s cool.”

That’s why on Saturday — the day of the Chinese mid-Autumn festival — Peabody Heights Brewery hosted the first of a series of events called Night Market Untapped that will celebrate Asian culture and feature local Asian American-owned businesses. O’Keefe is organizing the series with UPPU, a marketing firm run by Denis Sgouros and Rachel Paraoan.

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“The support has been overwhelming. And we hope that we can make this event series entirely uplifting for everyone, particularly the [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community” said Sgouros, whose mother is Chinese.

The Night Market Untapped series at Peabody Heights Brewery comes a few weeks after the Asia Collective Night Market. More than 25,000 people showed up to the event in Howard County, but there wasn’t enough parking available, leading to gridlock, confusion, frustration and, eventually, some refunds.

O’Keefe and Sgouros did not want to put down any other festival organizers. Rather, they said they wanted this night market series at Peabody Heights Brewery to show there is interest in similar festivals and serve as a launch pad for bigger events.

“There are other [Asian American and Pacific Islander] events happening throughout the city, throughout the state,” O’Keefe said. “[It’s] really nice to do these events and see that there is a really strong interest and a strong community that wants to support it.”

For Saturday’s event, the brewery was decked out in red paper lanterns. Sgouros and O’Keefe planned a lion dance by US Jow Ga Martial Arts — a traditional Chinese performance in which costumed dancers mimic the movement of a lion — and a performance by guitarist Steve Hung.

O’Keefe and Sgouros noted it was difficult to put on Saturday’s event with just a couple of weeks’ planning. A food vendor bowed out the day before. The pair said they are actively recruiting more Asian-owned businesses and vendors for future events.

Brandi McCoy was excited to come to the night market at Peabody Heights. She moved to Baltimore just three months ago and had tried going to the Asia Collective Night Market in Howard County.

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“We got stuck in that long line of traffic for an hour and a half and then we just kind of popped the median and left,” she said.

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McCoy came to the brewery with Kei Chan.

“I didn’t even know that there was a local Chinese martial arts place and they also do lion dancing,” Chan said.

Chan said he was especially looking forward to the lion dancing because he had cousins who used to perform lion dances, and he emphasized that events like this can be for everyone.

“It’s not only for people who are part of the culture — whatever it is, whatever the event is — but also for people who don’t know anything to have a little bit of something new to check out, and maybe get an interest in and learn more about those events or the themes and the culture,” Chan said.

McCoy said she wanted to see more events like this and more people sharing their culture.

“Baltimore is this diverse area, so it benefits from diversity,” McCoy said. “I don’t see why they shouldn’t enjoy events like that bring the community closer together.”


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