The Asia Collective Night Market held on Saturday at Howard County Fairgrounds in Maryland received a thumbs down from visitors for extreme overcrowding and traffic congestion.
The event promised visitors a night of live entertainment, cultural activities and Asian food from local businesses. Many, however, described the experience as horrific, while some were unable to attend the event altogether despite paying for tickets.
“It was just really disappointing. I hope it doesn’t affect future food markets, especially for and by and supporting minority-owned businesses,” Payal Sindha told WBAL-TV.
Dozens of patrons explained that they were unable to enter the event after sitting in traffic for hours while those who made it to the parking lot were unable to use their tickets as they were no longer being checked.
Those who attended the event described the experience as horrific, stating that there were long lines and overcrowding. Some visitors purportedly also suffered from heat exhaustion.
“If she had passed out or something, there was no visible, who do I talk to, where’s the shade? Water, bathrooms. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. But it just wasn’t safe,” Maya Ollie explained.
Refunds were not issued to those who were unable to enter the venue.
Police stated that the event’s organizers allowed attendance to go “far over capacity,” contributing to the heavy traffic in surrounding areas.
“The organizer was understaffed and arranged ineffective parking coordination, which created gridlock in the parking lot and surrounding area,” Director of Public Affairs with the Howard County Police Department Sherry Llewellyn told Fox 5. “Police did everything possible to handle the traffic, but there were simply too many vehicles for the roadways to handle.”
The Asia Collective Night Market uploaded an apology to Instagram on Sunday stating that “due to unexpected sheer volume of individuals who did not have tickets driving to the fairground, our top priority immediately shifted to reducing traffic wait times.”
“Despite hard work from the police and our staff, we were overwhelmed. We had difficulties executing parking plans and check-in efficiently. We are sincerely sorry to those who were unable to come to our event, due to traffic. Our mission remains – we strive to create a community celebrating AAPI heritage and Asian cuisines,” it read.
Instagram users, however, expressed outrage over the event’s handling of the situation.
“Really? Parking is the only thing you’re apologizing for??? What about the unsafe conditions everyone was subjected to?! Own up to the fact yall were not ready to organize an event this huge or had a clue what yall were doing,” one user wrote.
“Do you want to address the fact that you sold 26,000 tickets to an event in a parking lot?” another user commented.