Not only will the 2009 Dragon Festival at Phalen Lake Park, St. Paul, showcase cultural heritage of the local Asian Pacific Islander communities, it also will include cooking demonstrations of Asian street foods on Saturday, July 11, and special make-up tips sessions for Asian women on Sunday, July 12! Not only will the 2009 Dragon Festival at Phalen Lake Park, St. Paul, showcase cultural heritage of the local Asian Pacific Islander communities, it also will include cooking demonstrations of Asian street foods on Saturday, July 11, and special make-up tips sessions for Asian women on Sunday, July 12!
The annual two-day family-oriented Dragon Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 11. The event's all-volunteer planning committee is proud to promote the 2,400-year-old tradition and sport of dragon boat racing. There also will be colorful displays of cultural heritage and performances in an effort to increase cross-cultural understanding. The year-round planning will result in a weekend of exciting festivities featuring:
Saturday, July 11
* Opening ceremony, 11:30 a.m.: Traditional dragon dance, blessing by the monks, awakening the dragon, followed by a Bollywood dance performance and workshop.
* Asian street eats, 1-3:45 p.m.: Local culinary expert Raghavan Iyer and local restaurateurs will demonstrate and discuss common street foods found around Asia.
Sunday, July 12
* Indonesian music, 11:30 a.m.: Sumunar Gamelan Ensemble will perform and invite the audience to try various unique percussion instruments.
* Asian make-up tips and skin care, 1:30 & 3 p.m.: Susan Yee, Zhen Beauty founder and expert in the cosmetic industry, will demonstrate how to find the right foundation to match Asian skin tones, apply basic make-up and develop good skincare regimen that will save on make-up.
Many free attractions in two action-packed days
The namesake of the Festival are the dragon boat races, which originated in China. Legend has it that Qu Yuan, a wise and loyal minister to the Zhou Emperor who was loved by the common people, fought against corruption that plagued the court. He advised the emperor to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom and other court officials pressured the Emperor to have him removed from service. When the Zhou dynasty was defeated by the Qin, he became so despondent he threw himself into the Milou River. Fishermen rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, and throwing dumplings into the water to feed the fish so they would not eat Qu Yuan's body. Dragon boat races began as a way to commemorate Qu Yuan's death.
Other activities include dragon boat races (practice sessions on Saturday, races on Sunday), cultural dance and musical performances, martial arts demonstrations, supervised children craft activities and canoe rides. Festival attendees also can sample the foods of local Asian restaurants and shop for arts and crafts items.
Representatives from local Asian community organizations will be demonstrating fruit/soap carving, origami, kimono dressing, henna art, calligraphy, and more.
Book signings by local authors
The Festival is honored to have local author and culinary expert Raghavan Iyer back helping with the street eats demonstrations (Saturday, 1-3:45 p.m.). Iyer's 2008 cookbook, "660 Curries," was just named the "Best Asian Cookbook" by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Copies of his books will be available for purchase and signing.
The other author is Baorong Li whose hot-off-the-press "50 State Quarters Program" includes stories about the designs of the U.S. quarters minted from 1999-2008, written in English and Chinese. Li, director of assessment and academic research at Metropolitan State University, will be contributing proceeds for the book sale to Dragon Festival!
Parking and directions
The Festival takes place at Phalen Lake Park, 1530 Phalen Blvd., St. Paul. Free, offsite parking is available at:
* The Metro Transit Station, Highway 61 & County Road C
* The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, 1430 Maryland Ave E., and
* Gustavus Adolphus Church, 1669 Arcade St. N.
Free shuttle bus service to and from Phalen Park from each of the parking areas will be provided on both days. Check www.dragonfestival.org for directions and maps.
Still time to participate
Looking for a venue to sell your awe-inspiring arts and crafts? Itching to introduce your Asian culinary delight? There is still time for vendors, restaurants, artists and community organizations to reserve a booth. Or, if you have a penchant to paddle in one of the elaborately carved boats? Form your own team and sign up now. Don't miss the boat, literally!
Forms and details are available online at www.dragonfestival.org.
Generous sponsors make festival possible
The Festival has been steadily growing with the help and generosity of new and returning sponsors. American Family Insurance and State Farm Insurance return as the title sponsors for the boat races and cultural performances respectively. Other sponsors are Ameriprise Financial, Boston Scientific, Honeywell, Medtronic, QuitPlan, Shaw-Lundquist Association Inc., Target, US Bank and Wells Fargo. Asian American Press, Asian Pages and China Insight are the event's media sponsors. The support from these organizations enable production of the Festival and that admission and all presentations remain free to the public.
Watch the dragon come alive for the weekend and enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of Asia! Updates and schedules of programs will be posted on www.dragonfestival.org.