The Asian Festival is three days away.  Next week will be full of festival pictures, assuming I get to watch anything and not troubleshoot the entire weekend.  We’ve lined up some volunteers, rearranged hotel rooms, allowed for inconsequential changes, given a radio and newspaper interview, and are for the most part ready.  In 48 hours, my origami artwork vendor from Hawaii boards a plane in Honolulu for his trip to Orlando and then to Gainesville.  In 72 hours, we will be on site visualizing how this thing is going to look and I will be wondering how I am going to sound giving the opening address.  Do I want to talk about Florida’s cultural diversity or is that just too trite? Maybe a word about how the Asian cultures enrich ours.  I’m not a speechwriter.  I also have been known to put my foot in it, or to have it put in for me:

At last year’s festival, I had a serious attack of reflux that made it impossible for me to eat.  I was therefore unable to try a samosa offered to me by a food vendor.  I explained that I was simply not able to deal with eating solid food at that moment, but the vendor was having none of it.

“You probably don’t even like Asian food,” she said.


“What’s an Asian festival?”

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately.  I come from a city where cultural celebrations–as well as celebrations of lowly vegetables like the artichoke–are commonplace.  It never occurred to me that people might not know what an Asian festival is, or why the City would want to have one.

The Asian festival is, like the Pride or the Latino festival, a celebration of a culture.  That culture is demonstrated at our festival through the arts and through cuisine.  Throughout the day, you’ll see performances and exhibitions representative of a country or of a section of a country–for instance, Bhangra dance is Punjabi and tinikling is Filipino; lion dance comes from China and koi fish from Japan.  And you’ll eat a selection of foods from the best restaurants and food vendors I could find for the job.

The City puts on the festival in the belief that people will–as they did last year–come out to enjoy it. It’s an event that has worked, and last year it exceeded expectations so we are doing it again and will continue to do it or something like it so long as people come out on that Gator-free weekend in October to celebrate along with us.  We think it’s a nice event and we’ve worked on it for months to bring it to you.  Come join us.

Today, pictures unrelated to the festival but found in Gainesville.  We have the brand-new CRA building, food served as the reception for the brand-new CRA building, the old courthouse, and a selection of lovely flowering things from the botanical garden where I have been spending quite a bit of time lately.