2014 Birmingham Asian Cultures & Food Festival
March 29, 2014
The 2014 Birmingham Asian Cultures and Food Festival will be held this year on Saturday, March 29, 2014, from 10:30 am (opening ceremony) until 4:00 pm at a new location, the Zamora Shrine Temple (3521 Ratliff Road, Irondale, AL 35210), a potential future home for the Asian Cultural Education Center of Alabama. Come and support the Foundation and its goals through your attendance and purchases, meet people of different cultures, learn to understand cultural similarities and differences, sample many kinds of Asian food, see a colorful origami peace mobile donated to the Foundation, and have a lot of fun! Come early and stay until closing.
This year’s Festival begins with the traditional Opening Ceremony: Children’s Chorus, remarks from visiting dignitaries and this year’s Miss Birmingham and Miss Cahaba Valley, and the official ribbon cutting at 11:00 am. We hope you will delight in and appreciate the performers who will present authentic presentations and colorful costumes from several Asian countries. This year we have as headliners the members of Matsuriza, internationally known Japanese Taiko drummers from Epcot Center at Walt Disney World. In addition to our long time local friends, Natyananda, Notinee, and Jasmine Dance Ensemble, we will present Vietnamese and Filipino dancers to delight us with graceful and energetic dances and colorful costumes. The very different sounds of traditional Asian music and rhythms will conjure images of far-away lands, as will the silk embroidered and painted art, ceramics, books, dolls, umbrellas, lanterns, plants, and other items on sale in the Festival Bazaar. ATM available in the building. For the first time there will be Asian country cultural booths, as well as vendors’ booths, to visit. Children and adults will again present many different and colorful costumes during our annual Asian fashion show that appeals to all ages and every photographer in the house.
There will also be more interactive educational programs for the whole family, as “kids” from 6 to 99 take a “journey across Asia” on a giant map from National Geographic. Guided by experienced master teacher, Bo Garrett, they will learn how vast and diverse the Asian continent is while doing fun activities! Local martial arts master, Dr. Kalanatha Mikal Keenan, will offer a program for those seeking the origins and meaning of true ethical enlightenment, with a talk on “The Way of Kong Fuzi (Confucius)”.
A major visual event at this year’s Festival will be a colorful display of 20,000 origami cranes that were donated as a peace mobile to the Foundation. It should remind everyone attending of our goal to build an International Friendship and Peace Plaza to be dedicated in honor of Mahatma Gandhi for his efforts to unify people and the influence his ideas about non-violent resistance to injustice had on many influential world leaders.
And, of course food is a major part of this Festival. Again, there will be cuisine offered from at least seven different Asian countries. Sample as you will, and savor the aromas, flavors, and textures of the foods offered. Try new things and discover new favorites. You can buy a prepared plate or prepare your own by a la carte purchasing. Pots of Jasmine tea, sodas, and bottled water will be available also. The “Food Court” opens at 11:30 am.
One of the goals of the Foundation is the construction of the only classical Chinese garden in the South – a place of beauty and repose, as well as where artistic, cultural, social, therapeutic, and educational programs and events can occur. There will again be an opportunity to see the model of the design created for the Alabama Classical Chinese Garden by a world-class team from Suzhou, China, when they visited Birmingham in 2007. There will also be walking tours of a potential site nearby for those interested in supporting our efforts to acquire the property.
Following tradition, this year’s Miss Birmingham (2014), Chelsea Yarber, and Miss Cahaba Valley (2014), Ellen Hardy, will serve as hostesses for the festival, cut the ribbon to open the festivities, direct the Children’s Chorus in the opening ceremony, and be available for photographs with children.
Food service will be available from 11:30 am - 3:00 pm. A small number of invited restaurants and organizations representing many Asian cuisines will have prepared plates available for $8.00 each. For the more adventurous, each restaurant will also offer “a la carte” portions of a few special dishes to add to your plate for $3.00 each, so you can wander among the tables and sample dishes from seven different Asian countries whose cuisine you may have never tried before. Soft drinks and bottled water will be available for $2.00 each, and a teapot of hot Jasmine tea with four cups is $5.00.