By Will Ahern

Responding to the Corona Virus Pandemic, the Dragon Festival for 2020 has been cancelled.  


The Dragon Festival is being reimagined as this is written. Instead of a two-day event from the past, this summer it will be one action-packed Saturday on July 11, from 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. The new ownership and new format are meant to breathe new life and energy to the festival. Popular dragon boat races will take place all day. Other new additions are also being developed for this colorful event.

Through the 19 years of its existence, the Dragon Festival has been a solid presence celebrating diversity and cultural experience in Eastside of Saint Paul. It has brought a diverse presence to Phalen Lake through hugely popular boat races, cultural performances, authentic foods and resources for the community. At its height, attendance had been estimated at a whopping 10,000.

Permanent landmarks at the event site are now present because of the efforts of people associated  with the Dragon Festival. These include the new Phalen Regional Park China Garden with the Xiang Jiang Pavilion and the beautiful “Meditation” sculpture (created and dedicated in July 2006) by Changsha artist Lei Yixin. Master Lei also carved the sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Dragon Festival Committee 2020The newly formed nonprofit is named Midwest Festivals dba as Dragon Festival. Ms. Maikhou Vang is the highly motivated new president. She is owner of the Weaving Cultures, LLC a prominent service company providing interpreter and translation services in more than 120 languages. Vang is herself an amazing success story having come to the United States at the age of 10. 

Mark your calendar for an eventful day with all kinds of performances, food and fun this summer!

The event is open to anyone interested in learning more about Asian cultures and celebrations.

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By Greg Hugh

ChinaCenterBanquet 1The China Center recently celebrated building bridges between the U.S. and China with an evening of festive food, entertainment and socializing at the McNamara Alumni Center Memorial Hall.

The celebration began with a social hour with a guzheng performance by Jarrelle Barton.  The UMN Chinese Culture Club also made an appearance in traditional Chinese clothing and posed for photos with guests. For those so inclined, there was an opportunity to bid on China-related items donated by generous friends of the China Center.  Auction items included a curated tour of MIA with Dr. Yang Liu and a literati night with dinner, poems and traditional music at the Xiangjiang Pavilion located in Lake Phalen Regional Park in Saint Paul.

Opening remarks were then provided by present and past members of the China Center staff as dinner was served.

ChinaCenter30th keynote 1John Holden, a University of Minnesota alumnus, delivered the keynote speech on U.S.-China relations and exchanges, "Minnesota to China: A 40-Year Reflection."  One of the first UMN students to travel to China in the 1970s before China opened to the West, Holden is Senior Director for China at McLarty Associates and former senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program and former president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations.  He earned his bachelor's degree in Chinese Language and Literature from the University of Minnesota.  Since his first trip to Asia in 1972, Holden has studied or worked for a total of 25 years in Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing and Kyoto. 

The China Center is proud to celebrate 40 years of working to build the bridge of understanding, friendship, exchange, and cooperation between the U.S. and Greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). 

To learn more about the China Center, visit


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The local Chinese American community recently gathered for a day of music and cultural performances at Mall of America to celebrate China’s Mid-Autumn Festival.  The daylong event was free and open to the public.  Watch all the performances on youtube @

This festival is one of the most popular holidays in China.  Much like America’s Thanksgiving, it is celebrated by the entire country where everyone travels to visit family.

MOA MF Acrobats web

The rotunda at Mall of America was decorated with many red lanterns suspended from the ceiling, providing a festive setting for the main stage where performances took place throughout the day.  Unfortunately, seating was limited, as was the ability to view the performances from the edge of the rotunda owing to the placement of many posters extolling the virtues of the city of Chongqing, one of the event’s primary sponsors.

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The event began with a cultural and tourist video by Chongqing, followed by performances that included the Chongqing Jaio Ayi Art Troupe that had traveled from China to participate in this event.  More than 15 local members of the Chinese and Hmong communities presented 30-plus performances throughout the day.

MOA MF kids web

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated since the Zhou Dynasty (1045-221 B.C.).  It started as a celebration of the moon.  The Emperor believed that by giving gifts to the moon after the fall harvest would help guarantee a good harvest the following year.  These offerings were usually placed on an outdoor altar for the moon to “see,” and consisted of various foods and drinks, like tea.  The practice of celebrating the moon spread from just the Emperor through the upper class and into the masses during the Tong Dynasty (A.D. 618-907).  It wasn’t until the Song Dynasty (A. D. 960-1279) that a formal festival was established and celebrated by the entire country.  It is to occur on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar corresponding with a full moon, which means it can occur anywhere between the middle of August through early October in the Gregorian calendar.


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By Pearl Lam Bergad, Chinese Heritage Foundation, contributor

On the afternoon of March 31, the Chinese Heritage Foundation’s Sunday Tea Series presented photographer Wing Young Huie in a talk on his career and his new book, “Chinese-ness, The Meaning of Identity and the Nature of Belonging.”

Huie had invited us to meet at his studio, the Third Place Gallery, located in the heart of south Minneapolis. Fifty of us were seated in a semi-circle, bathed with natural light from the studio’s store-front windows and surrounded by Huie’s large photographs on two long brick walls. `

Huie began his presentation by talking about his father, who first came to this country from Tan- Shan, Guangdong Province in China when he was very young. He worked very hard, saved his money, returned to TanShan to marry and came back to work hard again. It was only after many such cycles before he was able to finally bring his wife and children over here. Wing Young was the only one of his six children who was born in this country.

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Community PhalenPavilioninSnow2 webCabin fever setting in?  Make an outing to Phalen Regional Park in Maplewood and see the beauty of the Xiang Jiang Pavilion in the snow, which is based on the famous Aiwan Pavilion in Changsha, Hunan Province built in 1792 under the reign of the sixth Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong.

The pavilion is named after the Xiang River that runs through the heart of Changsha.  The Xiang Jiang Pavilion stands 35-ft. tall and 23-ft. wide and is in the style of Changsha architecture with sweeping eaves (unlike the Beijing style with straight eaves).  Its granite columns are from Nanyu, Hunan Province, and weigh 10 tons each.  Its glazed roof tiles are from the Qu Fu Tile Factory in Shandong Province.

The beautifully carved couplets on the two front columns on both the Xiang Jiang Pavilion and Aiwan Pavilion are identical.  They mean, “Along the mountain path, a red sunset unfolds, Blossoms of 500 peach trees burst forth, Jade green clouds descend over the mountain cliffs, A pair of red-crowned cranes await their bamboo home.”

Visits are free and open year-round.  (Photo and pavilion facts: Linda Mealey-Lohmann)



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