Wisconsin Ave. closes down for monthly Night Market

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- From his booth smack-dab between 4th and 5th Streets on Wisconsin Avenue, Steve Hawthorne laughed at what he saw.

"How often do you get to stand in the middle of Wisconsin Avenue and hang out with people," Hawthorne said.

Thousands of people made their way onto the usually car-filled roadway Wednesday night, enjoying some of the coffee-maker's newest brews.

"It seems like there are people coming from all over the city that are just checking it out and see  what's happening," Hawthorne said.  "It's a good place for us to introduce ourselves, our coffee."

Hawthorne was one of 60 vendors selling and showing off their goods at Milwaukee's first  night market.

Artist Francis Annan came to Milwaukee from Ghana several months ago.  His work stood next to simpler strokes, jewelry, food and beer.

"We've never gotten such an opportunity to do that in Ghana," Annan said.  "Over here I've seen such a nice, beautiful art scene."

Angela Damiani's organization "Newaukee" worked for months to assemble the market. 

"It really is a collision of all the city has to offer," Damiani said.  Newaukee wanted to turn a formerly vacant lot across from the Wisconsin Convention Center into a place Milwaukee can be proud of.

"Have an experience with downtown that's really fun, family friendly and safe and hopefully start to alter that conversation about what downtown is," Damiani said.

The monthly market place's first night seemed to do the trick on Minnesota natives Stu and Laurie Smart, in town for their 30th wedding anniversary.

"I think it's great that the artisans are represented," Smart said.  "People can see what's going on and what people have to offer."

The Night Market is planned for once a month through October.  For more information, visit Newaukee here

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