It was a beautiful evening, the quintessential kickoff to summer: clear skies, light breeze, and just hot enough that the 5,000+ people at MEDA’s first-ever outdoor World Night Market were excited for ice cream, lemonade, and tea.
Drums echoed from the stage, lines snaked endlessly from food truck to food truck, and hanging lanterns shimmered as dusk settled over Lancaster, Pa.
That was 2017.
Fast-forward a year, and two-time World Night Market Committee Chair, Laura Bomberger, found herself facing a rather different set of circumstances.
“This year’s World Night Market was certainly a lesson in perseverance and also one where I was again reminded that I am not in control no matter how much I plan,” said Bomberger.
Weathering the Storm
MEDA’s World Night Market is a multicultural celebration inspired by markets in countries around the world where MEDA works to provide business solutions to poverty.
The original 2018 #MEDANightMarket was slated for May 18. It proved a cold, wet, and windy week.
After seven months of planning, including recruiting over 100 volunteers, vendors and musicians, Bomberger had just over 24 hours to decide the fate of the downtown Lancaster event.
“It was a no-win situation: Host the event in miserable conditions with a much smaller crowd, reschedule with the hope of better weather, or cancel altogether.” “I have never faced a leadership situation like I did the day before our original event date,” said Bomberger.
Ultimately, Bomberger and team decided to postpone until three weeks later.
In what Bomberger describes as a “crazy rush,” a new time, date, and venue were negotiated. Each volunteer, vendor, and musician were contacted as press releases went out, social media posts were boosted, an e-blast sent.
When It Rains...
June 10 arrived. It not only rained, it poured.
“[Weather] is always unpredictable, but this year was particularly unusual, and we just couldn't seem to win," said Bomberger.
“As I stood under a tree watching it all unfold, I felt an inner conflict within myself: be annoyed and frustrated and let it taint the entire afternoon, or, embrace the craziness and enjoy the fruits of seven months of work.”and we just couldn’t seem to win,” said Bomberger.
Bomberger chose the latter.
“I looked around and I saw so much joy,” she said.
“[MEDA volunteers] were holding umbrellas over kids as they weaved through the galimoto obstacle course, people were huddling under trees and tents talking with one another...I heard the beat of MU Steel’s lively music on stage, saw food vendors graciously serving food, guests arriving with umbrellas and smiles to take in the event...”
She concluded, “It was something to see—and the show truly did go on, by the ‘MEDA’s mission at Lancaster’s doorstep’ grace of God!”
Come Rain or Shine
MEDA’s Senior Development Officer, Ruth Leaman, watched as supporters, old and new to MEDA, engaged with MEDA’s worldwide work through interactive activities and dynamic conversation.
“People’s authentic and enthusiastic interest in MEDA shined through the rainy afternoon,” said Leaman. “I love that World Night Market brings the world—and MEDA’s mission—right to the doorstep of Lancaster.”
Bomberger agreed. “World Night Market seems to strike a chord with so many people—young, old, city dwellers, rural folks, and people of all ethnic backgrounds. It’s a beautiful event and I’m honored to play a role in making it happen,” she said.
Create Positive Change
At the heart of Bomberger’s resilience was a desire to give back—a desire felt by many.
If you, too, want to find ways to make an impact in the world at large, Leaman believes MEDA can play a role.
“People yearn to be part of something that is creating positive change in our world – for MEDA and our partners it’s what we do – everyday,” Leaman said.
She continued, “Because of MEDA’s remarkable track record, partners, global leaders, and institutional funders are creating more opportunity than ever before for MEDA to unleash real and lasting change in our world.”
Get to Know MEDA Lancaster
Hans Weaver is chair of MEDA Lancaster, a local network of MEDA supporters. Network hubs, like MEDA Lancaster, can be found throughout the United States and Canada. Each hub hosts their own lineup of events, including business tours, panels, and discussions. All activities link back to MEDA’s 65-year-old mission and vision of providing business solutions to poverty.
“World Night Market is one of the many ways you can engage with MEDA and learn about their work here in Central Pennsylvania,” Weaver said. “2018 into 2019 will include some exciting and new opportunities to welcome a broader group of people.”
The Answer You’ve Been Waiting For
So how do you host a World Night Rain Market?
It seems the winning formula might include free umbrellas, committed volunteers, and, at least for Bomberger and the planning committee, a healthy dose of MEDA passion.
After the rain and the mud, the set-up and the tear-down, Bomberger remains convinced:
“MEDA does incredible work, and I’m privileged to partner with them!”
Want to learn more about MEDA’s world vision and how you can join the movement? Visit www.meda.org today!