Asian Festival

With record crowds, the Year of the Dragon New Year’s celebration at the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) was a grand success.

A little after mid-day, the Karilagan Philippine Cultural Group performed the first of their two part performance. Instead of presenting their usual customs, the dancers in the first set performed a few dances from lesser-known Filipino tribes.

A crowd favorite was Kinugsik-Kugsik, or the dance of the squirrels. This danced was performed by three filipino children, two boys and a girl, who depicted a love triangle between three, silly squirrels. The Karilagan Philippine Cultural Group also conducted a plethora of other dances from many tribes around the Philippines, including an all-male dance of war, a dance of a mother bird protecting her chicks from a hawk. Their performances stood true to their reputations as each included colorful costumes and interesting props.

The Jones Korean Traditional Korean Dances also had a set at the festival in which they performed many dances, but they also had an act with two drummers. The drumming performance this year had the audience applauding sporadically, until their final beat when it finally exploded with full force.

Besides the dancing performances, the festival offered many demos to demonstrate Asian culture.

The Indian Association Food Demo taught the audience to make authentic Indian dishes including a staple chicken curry along with less common dishes such as Mango Lassi, a simple dish of mango pulp and yogurt.

On the back lawn of the ITC, Taichi Today members decked in glowing white uniforms conducted a taichi demonstration with crowds of event-goes around to enjoy the calming music and energy.

Booths surrounding the ITC building sold a variety of imported Asian goods and authentic melt-in-your-mouth dishes.

Asian goods of all shapes and sizes were sold at the festival with a dragon theme throughout. Many imported and custom-made items were sold, such as handmade Chinese fans, elegant jade accessories and vibrant items of clothing.

Hello Kitty was a recognizable face at festival booths, along with various characters from Japanese anime. There were even a few Naruto cosplayers at the festival to celebrate their love for eastern cultures.

Tong’s Thai, a hotspot at the festival, had hordes of festival-goers eager to wait for a mango bubble tea.

The festival’s menu offered an expanse of Asian dishes including the San Antonio Chinese Alliance’s steaming bowl of Chinese Noodles, sold for an affordable $6. Many of the food booths had large lines and long waits, leaving the walkways around the ITC at a near standstill.

In preparation for the crowds, the festival offered $1 coupons to be used for purchasing food in hopes of promoting swift service. Despite this technique, it seemed that the lack of organization and limited space greatly inhibited timely service.

The festival had such a large turnout that not two hours into the event, the festival’s t-shirts were sold out. This and the crowded thoroughfares for the Year of the Dragon celebration brought to light that the festival has outgrown the Institute of Texan Cultures. The event may need a larger venue in the future to continue to offer a quality experience.

For only $10 the Asian Festival was well worth the cost for an afternoon of eastern culture immersion and fun.

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