Sunday, May 7, 2017

Crow 31 Days: A Chamber of Leaders

The Crow Collection is celebrating Asian-American Pacific Islander Month in May with daily writings honoring the tremendous leaders who bring our city the very best Asian Art and Culture.

This post is dedicated to the devoted members of the Steering Committee for Dallas' Asian Festival.

The Asian Festival has been a flourishing example of Asian Culture in our city for almost 25 years. The festival is produced by the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce: a band of bright and enterprising volunteers and staff. For a small paid staff and two dozen or so board members and community leaders, the festival is an extraordinary accomplishment.

Over the years, the location for the festival and the scale have changed, but the spirit and energy of this beautiful cultural offering has not. The festival is a place to experience the best of Asia in Dallas. Here are a few gateways:

1) The Food: Vendors and Food Trucks from all over the city create a delectable taste of Asia: if you stay long enough you can experience lunch and dinner. Try something you haven't had before --and wash it down with a bubble tea!

2) The Stage: Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the festival to coordinate, the Main Stage is the place where it all happens. City Leaders gather first, with the Chinese Lions, and herald the beginning of the festival. From that point forward, it is a landscape for presenting the best Asian dance, music and cultural performances our city has to offer.

3) The Children's Fair: Museums and cultural organizations partner with the Chamber to provide the active aspect of the Festival's interactive component. Families can enjoy art projects and experiences illuminating Asian Art and Culture. This is the place your kids are sure to laugh, smile, make and remember.

4) Go Global: In recent years, the Festival leaders launched the Cultural Pavilions: larger booths teaching Festival-goers authentic relevance about one of the 26 countries represented by the Asian Chamber. Organizers share aspects of geography, tourism and culture and bring it to life. When was the last time you had the opportunity to learn about Sri Lanka? (And did you know they just expanded into Texas in August of last year with the appointment of an Honorary Consul?). Our community is changing and growing by the minute: the more you know, the more you can connect.

I've been attending the Asian Festival since the museum first participated in 1999. We'll be back this year with a Booth out at Fair Park. One highlight from those early engagements with the museum was the year the Japan America Society presented the large Koi Fish Ponds in the former location of Annette Strauss Artist's Square. We had to shade the ponds so the fish didn't get too hot. Every year offers some wonderful surprise--that year it was Koi!

I applaud our friends at the Chamber for growing the festival and staying true through all these years to a city-critical mission of cultural access and impact for every visitor. I always learn something, I always see old friends and make new ones, and I always leave proud of my Dallas: a place where culture blooms.

Make your plans to be part of our International Dallas--it can't happen without you. The Asian Festival is this Saturday, May 13 from 11-7 at Fair Park just beyond the DART stop. Bravo to the Asian Chamber for this vital contribution to our city. Your involvement can be the perfect compliment to this tremendous effort. 

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