(Feb. 19, 2015) -The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) will host the 28th Annual Asian Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21 at the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd.
For more than 25 years, San Antonio has greeted the Chinese New Year with fire crackers, lion dancers and a day of celebration. The tradition continues as the ITC presents this year’s festival, celebrating the Year of the Ram.
The Asian Festival has grown well beyond just a New Year celebration and has come to be a gathering of many San Antonio Asian communities, including those of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and the island nations of the Pacific.
Food is one of the defining elements of the Asian Festival and since the beginning, it’s been prepared from authentic recipes in traditional fashion. A quick glance at the menu shows, samosas, bubble drinks, Chicken Biryani, Korean-style Chap Chae noodles with vegetables, and Daal lentil soup among the many offerings.
Two stages of music and dance showcase traditional and contemporary Asian dance. Guests can watch the acrobatics of the Lion Dancers, appreciate the precision of a classically trained Okinawan dancer, and enjoy the visual delight of the Indonesian dancers.
"It’s a great way to get to know and appreciate a culture," said festival director Jo Ann Andera. "We offer a chance to get more depth and knowledge about our neighbors through a series of presentations throughout the day."
The Asian Festival includes lectures on a variety of topics, such as principles and application of acupuncture, a demonstration of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and how to create Indonesian Batik fabric art. There are galleries with displays of Ikebana floral arrangements and Bonsai, showings of contemporary anime, cooking demonstrations and martial arts demonstrations.
New to the martial arts demonstration area is the discipline of Garimot Arnis, an exotic Filipino style emphasizing weapon forms, wrestling and folk-healing techniques. The Gariot Arnis students join a list of peers including practitioners of Karate, Kung Fu, Iaido swordsmanship, Tai Chi Chuan and other styles.
A special feature of the 2015 festival is the opening of "Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab," a new exhibit which will remain at the museum into the fall. Originating at the Smithsonian, the exhibit follows the history of the Sikh culture and the religion which unites them across borders and around the world, including Texas and San Antonio. Members of the Sikh community will serve as gallery hosts and tour guides during the festival.
"It will be an amazing day," said Andera. "Our guests have fun, and they will walk away after a great experience with new knowledge and understanding of our city’s Asian cultures. It’s a fabulous experience and an adventure in our own city."
Asian Festival tickets are available online at TexanCultures.com and at the ITC museum store. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, February 21. Admission is $10 for adults (gate), $8 advance; $5 for children (gate or advance), and group rates are available online, in advance, only.
VIA Park & Ride service is available from the Crossroads Park & Ride only, with service to the Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, next to the museum.
For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.
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