Cleveland put on a nice sunny day on Saturday the 20th as the Asian communities came out in color and flare too showcase the best of their talent, fashion, culture and food.
The Asia Festival for 2017 #CAF2017 (@CLEAsianFest on Twitter), is organised every year by a passionate group of volunteers, and businesses from the Asian communities of Cleveland. This years festival was an absolute delight to attend. The performances by each group were very impressive, and often witnessed on each stage by packed crowds.
Lets not forget that with the sights and sounds there is the added bonus of smells and tastes, as some of Cleveland’s best Asian cuisine was available in the food area of the festival all of which looked delicious, I was fortunate enough to try some of the Thai, Nepal, Vietnamese, and some Korean food throughout the day all of which I enjoyed very much.
Some of the earlier performances during the day also put pacific culture on display with hula dancing ‘similar to Hawaiian or Cook Island style performers. Asian communities in pacific nations and the inter-mingle of cultures that exists in the Melanesian and Polynesian Islands go back at least 100 years, when settlers from east Asian countries migrated and setup businesses, farms and other industries in the Pacific Islands. So naturally in the Asia festival we also got to experience some Pacific influences. As someone who is half Asian and half pacific islander this reminded me a lot of home.
Another event that drew large crowds on both stages was the Indian dancers both individual and group, the mystical, colorful and also historical nature of the performance holding both religious and cultural significance to the East Indian communities was embraced by an intrigued crowd full of curiosity and in admiration of the talent on display, some of these dances take years to master and perfect and the girls performing them had obviously been involved all their lives to learn the art.
The youth talent was also very special, the kids in colorful costumes displaying cultural dances from different parts of Asia, as well as a more modern spin of K-POP and urban dance by some performers later in the afternoon showcased diversity and also an interesting cultural evolution where more modern influences have not only impacted Asian youth but their own application of these musical styles such as rock, pop and hip hop has spread into mainstream western culture too where K-POP is well known. In addition Manga, Anime, Cosplay etc from Asia has spread globally.
There was so much on offer here and I was invited to the show by my friend Daniel who’s partner has been a regular volunteer in the festival for many years whilst Daniel was running a booth which I was also volunteering in. The opportunity of being in the booth allowed me to witness some of the festivals highlights ‘as displayed in the photos and video’.
I look forward to attending next year also and can see the popularity of this event grow, as the smiles and enjoyment of the event was shared by all in attendance, organizers say nearly 40,000 Cleveland locals attend the festival each year which is an amazing effort from all organizers to accommodate such a crowd.