The jingles of traditional clothing and cultural music filled the air Saturday, as hundreds of people gathered at Fresno City College to celebrate AsianFest, which has been dubbed Fresno’s largest Asian American festival.
It’s become an annual tradition at the college campus to celebrate Asian American Month in April with campus-wide activities that culminate with the AsianFest celebration.
“We are traveling to Asia without leaving home and without needing a passport,” said Maile Martin, the director of AsianFest. “I want everyone to enjoy their culture and learn about other cultures.”
Hundreds gathered at the Saturday event which features a variety of entertainment such as singing, dancing, fashion shows, global vendors, Asian American foods, anime car shows, and audience engaging activities.
The performances included: Martial Arts, Sikh Culture, Halau Hula I Ka La, Tai Chi Fan dancers, McLane Hmong dancers, Lion dancers, Buchanan Filipino Club and many more.
“These aren’t just things you see everyday walking around in Fresno,” said Manual Garcia, an event attendee after watching the traditional Chinese Lion Dance performance. “I don’t think I would experience this anywhere else if I didn’t show up today.”
The festival gives everyone the opportunity to showcase their years-long practice and educate others about their heritage.
“I love that we could bring out our cultural dance and show our moves to the world,” said Hmong dancer Kalia Vang. “It’s great to see and learn about other cultures as well.”
Vang said that her dance group practices every weekday and on Saturdays to work on their routines and prepare for the event.
Among all things to do, many of the event’s attendees explored the variety of cultural foods from Asian American food vendors.
A local favorite, Diana’s Award-Winning Papaya Salad, offered its traditional Thai food such as pork BBQ, papaya salad, and sticky rice.
AsianFest also drew a large number of anime and cosplay fans with many attendees dressing up as their favorite characters to compete in the cosplay contest.
Cicee, host of the cosplay contest, said that she has been cosplaying since 2014.
“I love the festivities and us embracing all the heritage and cultures in Fresno,” Cicee said. “I love that people are becoming more exposed to the many different communities.”
Fresno City College’s AsianFest is an annual event that usually takes place the last Saturday in April.
Ntsaiab Vang is Fresnoland’s Hmong community correspondent. This is the first of her stories serving the Hmong community in the central San Joaquin Valley.