Broadacres Marketplace has evolved as a cultural institution and generational connection point

La Botana Carnitas co-owner Carlos Hernandez
Photo: Wade Vandervort

When people think of Broadacres Marketplace, mental visions of its canopied food hall, signature micheladas and troupes of couples dancing banda often come to mind. Its 44-acre space bursts with more than 1,000 vendors and fills with thousands of people during the three days a week its gates are open. Some visitors come looking for a quick bite and drink; others stop by to grab essentials like new work wear, cleaning supplies or even a new mattress. But most come to bask in the feel-good atmosphere, and to ward off the Sunday blues with family and friends.

After parking in the extended lot it’s typical to pass by the exiting groups who have already had their fill of the swap meet’s fun. Families walk at a leisurely pace, often chatting among themselves while their kids mess around with their new toys. These days you’re met with a line of people waiting to pay their entry fee, only making the visit feel more buzzworthy.

Broadacres Marketplace

For me, stepping past that ticket checkpoint is a familiar feeling. For years I’ve taken the same route, past the churros on the right and the cowboy boot stand on the left, my feet naturally moving me toward the epicenter of the grounds, the stage. The distanced guitars and brass instruments grow louder as I journey forth and there’s a faint smell of warm leather, roasted cacahuates and sweet cinnamon in the air mixed with the scent of the heavily cologned men standing by.

My eyes expertly dart around each booth searching for something funny to comment on, like a graphic tee depicting a gangster SpongeBob, or pinpointing an item I’d want to circle back to, like a photo frame that would fit snugly on my gallery wall at home.

To a first timer, the smells, sounds and sights might be a lot to take in. But once adjusted, many eventually develop a loose personal agenda for their visits, too.

And while it’s often relegated to being a standard place to go on a warm weekend morning, Broadacres’ impact on local culture is bigger and more powerful than we might previously have considered. Admittedly, this appreciation is something I’ve only recently come to in my adult life. 

In all forms of culture, there’s a natural instinct to create and gravitate to spaces that feel like home. These little clusters of life come in various forms and reflect the generational characteristics that have been handed down from our elders. For many Latinos in the Las Vegas Valley,Broadacres is a place of comfort that has become a mainstay in our metropolitan lives.

Opened in 1977 by the Bowman family, the grounds of Broadacres grew from a mere four acres to 20 over the course of 30 years. After selling the land to the Danz family in 2007, the property ballooned to the 44 acres it is today. It developed into a full-fledged family extravaganza, designed to keep guests for lengthy visits.

General manager Yovana Alonso’s ties with the swap meet date back to 1993, when she helped her aunt run a booth before eventually becoming an employee with the company. If there’s anyone who knows this place like the back of her hand, it’s Alonso.

“Back in the day, [Broadacres] catered to first-generation Latinos,” she says. “We’ve noticed that this demographic has been changing. It’s no longer just first generation Hispanics; there’s now differing ethnicities.”

As a child, this was a place I spent weekend mornings with my family. My mom and stepdad tried their hand at running their own booth, selling discounted furniture pieces sourced from the World Market Center just miles away. I remember practically being dragged out of bed to join them and my mom bribing my sister and I with the promise of fresas con crema or hot champurrado. After each sale my mom would hand off a couple of dollars for my sister and I, encouraging us to walk around and look at trinkets to fight off our boredom. Today, she jokes that her and her husband’s profit margins quickly fell off due to our “little treats.”

Like Alonso and myself, Marina Hernandez, owner of glamor photography studio Memori.ES702, was introduced to Broadacres through her family and now operates her second studio within the grounds. “I used to come with my dad every week,” Hernandez recalls. “But I also remember that I used to help my friend’s mom with her stand and [my friend] hated coming here.”

Hernandez emphasizes that this connection with Broadacres also infiltrates the lives of her clients. Many of them mention that they too once managed a stand or worked with a family member at this swap meet. Although many share this experience, there’s a tinge of embarrassment when they talk about it. But entrepreneurs like Hernandez shed a new light on this decades-old business model.

“People have told me that they’re proud to see how I embrace my culture,” says Hernandez. “It inspires them to proudly say, ‘Yeah, I am helping my mom,’ or ‘This is where we’re starting, but look—she did it.’ So we can get bigger, too.”

A boy stands on stage with Los Metichones Band during a Broadacres performance.

There’s a clear pattern here. From adolescence we’re introduced to one of the most accessible forms of culture that appeals to all age groups. The kids are naturally drawn to the sectioned area of carnival games and amusement rides. Teens gather in groups and walk around each other with an immature curiosity, and the grown-ups go about their own respective agendas or simply lose time browsing around or dancing.

Nowadays, the youthful masses are more inclined to embrace their brown heritage. Perhaps it’s the connectivity of the internet that bands these groups together, or maybe this new generation simply cares less about what others think of them. Either way, this pride in heritage is contagious. At Broadacres, you can see it firsthand.

Given the general demographics at Broadacres, Spanish speaking is mostly the norm. My mom lovingly refers to me as a coconut—you know, brown on the outside and white on the inside. As a kid, this comparison was most evident when I was put in situations where I needed to speak Spanish. I was always good at rolling my Rs and could proudly sound off the few words I knew, but there was something about ordering from vendors at Broadacres that stopped me in my tracks and made me feel ashamed of not being able to converse.

Even if the conversation was purely transactional, my struggle to keep up made me naturally shy away from practicing the language. “​​Cuanto cuesta?” I’d ask confidently, followed by an, “Ah, gracias,” putting back the item when I was told a number that I couldn’t quite mentally translate, and furthering my distaste for spending my time wandering the stalls.

I now know that I was too much in my own head about these passing situations. And who could blame me? As a pubescent emo teenager, I was naturally egocentric and failed to realize that my lacking Spanish tongue isn’t a barrier here. Broadacres appeals to everyone, and today, you don’t have to be a Spanish speaker to be included.

During my recent visits, I’ve become keenly aware of the kinds of people who are coming to Broadacres—specifically, the groups of youths that are bringing in new life to the storied space. They’ve infiltrated the Friday night dance events, twirling each other around to the bandas on stage, elbow to elbow with people who’ve been here for years. They’ve embraced grabbing michis with their friends on Sunday mornings to cure their hangovers and recap the prior night’s festivities and chisme. They stop by to grab crisp Pro Clubs or freshly made cheesy machetes.

Whatever the reason for the visit may be, and there doesn’t even have to be a reason, they’re here ... weekend after weekend, without fail.

Must-See Vendors



For Marina Hernandez, Memori.ES702 is an intersection of all things she loves—glam, photography and human connection. Through private photo sessions with her clients she’s able to capture modern essence with the nostalgic flair that was popularized in the ‘90s and early 2000s. The studio is fully equipped with colorful backdrops, fun props and makeup services to ensure you’re camera-ready. The finished look is airbrushed to perfection, giving all subjects a glow that could never be replicated with an Instagram filter. Hernandez also offers discounts for seasonal sessions such as Mother’s Day and specialty graduation shots. But to me, the best part of the service is leaving with physical copies that’ll last for generations. In a world where everything is posted online, it’s nice to have a physical memento. linktr.ee/memori.es702.

Latino's Rock

Latino’s Rock owner Sergio Octaviano

Growing up, Latino’s Rock was my wardrobe holy grail. It was my version of Hot Topic—the place where I could revel in my musical interests, while snagging band tees that reflected my ever-growing iPod playlist. From The Doors and Black Flag to Joy Division and Black Sabbath, this modest booth was a must-visit for me back then and remains so now.

Today, owner Sergio Octaviano and his wife Monica have worked to steadily expand their growing business and accommodate the rocker demand. Now the Latino’s Rock booth has impressively grown to five aisles, all lined with T-shirts, patches, hats, bags and more. If it wasn’t hard enough to choose a few shirts in the past, the challenge is now even greater. But luckily, tees start at just $18 each, which completely justifies splurging. latinosrockshop.com.

La Bontana Carnitas

La Botana Carnitas co-owner Carlos Hernandez

The state of Michoacán is the famed birthplace of carnitas. The meaty delight is Mexico’s take on pulled pork. When made right, it’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This is the kind of food where warm tortillas replace utensils and you share with friends and family. And in Vegas, La Botana Carnitas is considered one of the best.

Co-owners Manuel Maldonado and Carlos Hernandez make it their humble mission to give the people a piece of pork paradise, and their hard work has earned them a special place in my own family’s culinary affections. Typically, we opt for the sharable pound of carnitas plate for $22, which comes with rice, beans and tortillas on the side. While sitting across from each other under the shaded dining area, we not only relish each other’s company but also the reliable flavors La Botana serves up. 

“What I like most about being here is the people,” says Hernandez. “They’re happy about the carnitas and tell us they’re the best—that’s what really makes us happy.” facebook.com/labotanacarnitasmichoacanas.

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Gabriela Rodriguez

Gabriela Rodriguez is a Staff Writer at Las Vegas Weekly. A UNLV grad with a degree in journalism and media ...

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