The 32nd annual Asian Celebration was held at the Lane County Fairgrounds, Feb. 18 – 19. A diverse crowd filled the auditoriums for entertainment, activities and to view art and cultural displays.
Drums boomed sporadically over the crowds of chattering people as Japanese drum performances, known as Taiko, were held in various locations throughout the event.
Paintings, calligraphy and sculptures were displayed in the atrium which also housed performances from the Oregon Puppet Theatre, a fashion show, dance performances and yoga demonstrations.
The Eugene and Springfield Asian Council and the Asian-American Foundation of Oregon coordinate the event each year, the AAFO also awards students who participate in Asian community and cultural events in Oregon with scholarships. The organizations aim to represent the diversity of Pan-Asian Culture.
The event started in 1986 as a brief four-hour event. As attendance has increased over the years, the celebration has extended into a weekend-long festival.
There was a crafts and game room geared toward children, with ceramics and origami lessons throughout the day.
Kumoricon, a manga, anime and Japanese culture convention, had its own room at the event. Groups of friends gathered around video game consoles to compete with one another and socialize. There was also a cosplay contest, where attendees dressed as anime or manga characters.
The celebration also focused on the history of Asian-American cultures.
The Asian Heritage & Justice exhibit featured a few selections from “Uprooted,” an exhibit about Japanese Americans in farm labor camps during World War II. The full exhibit is currently on display in the Lane County Historical Museum.
The selections were paired with other informative posters about historical events that happened near or in Lane County, such as the Ping Yang School Bombings. The information on display was taken from asianoregon.org.
Surrounding the historical display was “Our Stories: Immigrants of America,” a series of photographic portraits of immigrants with essays telling their stories. The collection was created by Eugene photographer and digital artist Melissa “Mimi” Nolledo. Nolledo emigrated from the Philippines in 1989. This is the first exhibit of “Our Stories.” The University of Oregon has picked up the exhibit for future display.
“I wanted to make some kind of photographic essays, because there’s this very negative, limited opinion of immigrants. I wanted to tell the story of immigrants and show that we’re not too different from one another, we love your country, everyday we work hard to provide,” Nolledo said.
The main stage included musical performances from a wide variety of groups representing Chinese, Hawaiian, Middle Eastern, Filipino and other Pan-Asian cultures. The Tirta Tari Balinese Dancers from Lane Community College performed for their sixth year.
The event also acted as a type of trade show for local businesses. Some businesses showcased their services for free at the event, such as spine alignments and acupuncture. Other businesses acted as vendors, selling traditional items like calligraphy brushes, while other vendors had Asian pop-culture merchandise for sale.
Other local Asian businesses served a variety of dishes such as yakisoba, banh mi, Asian pastries, mochi and bubble tea in the food court. Large tables surrounded the food court, and in front of the Martial Arts Stage, so event-goers had a chance to watch performances while they ate.