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Summer brings a multitude of festivals, street vendors, and events for people to get out and enjoy the warm weather. In Chicago, there is always some to enjoy. However, the Diversity Market has something Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza lacks. It specifically targets small businesses owned by women and people of color. While it is possible to find an event in Chicago that targets its minority population, the city has no other event with a diversity of this magnitude.
Diversity fest is native to Iowa City, specifically Pepperwood Plaza. Over 60 businesses will be in attendance, double that of last year. The event moved to accommodate more stands, so non-profits and businesses could attend. In addition, there is more parking so more families can enjoy the event. Pepperwood Plaza also offers greater availability making the event accessible.
Diversity Market will also offer a host of new attractions. The event will provide children with free face painting and giant table games, such as Jenga or Connect Four. The Iowa City Community Theatre will also provide on the event’s stage.
Community events offer many advantages ranging from political engagement to boosting the economy, but very few focus on diversity and inclusivity, especially in the economic market. An event like this supports small local businesses and feeds the economy, as opposed to massive corporations like Amazon that pay very little in tax overall.
The Mayor of Iowa City, Bruce Teague, spoke about the Diversity Market and why it is an asset to the city: “I really think it gives people opportunity to show off what they have, and to come engage the community.” He added: “I think people will get really excited to come this year. I think the opportunities are going to be even more enhanced than last year.”
Mayoral support for events like these is essential to their success. Mayor Teague’s involvement with the event demonstrates its importance and signifies that perhaps more cities should look to stage events of this sort.
Teague is not the only one who sees the importance of the Diversity Market. Daniel Velasquez, a new food truck owner, spoke about what he hopes to gain and give through the Market: “I want to see what the community’s about… I want to, you know, make a really good impact of what I can bring to this community using my food truck as a platform.”
Many other vendors undoubtedly match Velasquez’s excitement surrounding the Diversity Market in attendance. As he is new to a food truck operation, this opportunity to demonstrate what he brings to the table is a boon to his business — a business that hopes to give back to its community.
The Diversity Market will take place every year in Iowa City. This year it is open every Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. CT from May 28 through July 30. All in all, events that support local businesses are inarguably an asset to communities. An asset that is especially important now, after the devastating effects of the pandemic.
Written by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Sheena Robertson
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