clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

FESTIVAL AT THE SALT PALACE BRINGS CULTURES OF ASIAN PACIFIC TOGETHER

Imagine the frequent-flier miles you'd rack up learning the hula, sampling authentic Korean food, watching martial arts and learning Japanese calligraphy from the native experts of the crafts.

What if you tried to do it all in one day?The Asian Pacific Festival offered a chance to experience these activities in the convenient confines of the Salt Palace Exhibition Hall.

For 18 years, the festival has brought Asian Pacific cultures together. This year, the festival highlighted the Chinese and Filipino cultures, but the Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Tongan, Samoan and Tibetan cultures had booths at the festival.

The goal of the festival is to educate the community about the important role the Asian and Pacific cultures have played in defining Utah's identity.

"I think this festival gives us a lot of opportunities. We can introduce our culture to American society and we can show our culture to other Asian societies, as well," said Yeou-Lan Chen, who is vice president of the Chinese Society of Utah.

An exhibit titled "100 Asian Portraits" told the stories of how 100 Asian immigrants came to Utah. Lilly Toy Hong, for example, is a Chinese-American who has written and illustrated three children's books with a definite Chinese flavor - "How the Ox Star Fell from Heaven," "Two of Everything" and "The Empress and the Silkworm."

Tony Phan came to the United States from Vietnam less than a decade ago. The North Vietnamese put him in a "re-education camp" in the late 1970s. Now he is the president of the Vietnamese Association of Utah.

"Most of the Vietnamese community are refugees and we have come here in different ways," Phan said. "Now it doesn't matter how and why they left . . . we all meet here in this state and become Utahns. We consider this our home now."

Tibetan immigrant Wangdu moved here in 1992 and used the festival to inform people about the struggle to liberate Tibet from the communist Chinese government. The Chinese government has banned all Tibetan cultural celebrations, so this sort of festival is important in keeping their culture alive, he said.

The festival plays an important roll in educating the children and making them aware of other cultures, according to Kesa Fangupo. "I have a lot of kids and when I see Polynesian kids can get along with Asian kids, that's how we want our community to be," she said.

Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini visited the festival and received a gift of Thai silk. "With the Olympics coming, it's a great time for us to learn about the other cultures so we can be ready to welcome the rest of the world," the Mayor said.

The festival continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Salt Palace Exhibition Hall. Admission is $3.