Drumming, dancing and swinging

From Chinese folk music to Middle Eastern belly dancing, the 24th annual Oregon Asian Celebration will honor and encourage better understanding about Asian and Asian-American cultures. The celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 and until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Lane Events Center.

One of the new features of this year’s Asian Celebration is the Minidoka Swing Band, named after the Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho where many Japanese-Americans were interned during the 1940s. Various singers and musicians of the Portland-based band had lived in internment camps or have relatives who had. Many of the songs the Minidoka Swing Band performs were once played and sung by those living in internment camps.

Other performances on the Main Stage will include Japanese taiko drumming as well as dances and music from the Philippines, South and North India, Indonesia, the Middle East, China and Nepal.

Through karaoke, video games and cosplays of Star Wars and anime characters, the Kumoricon Room will celebrate the influences that Asian cultures have had on U.S. pop culture. David Yuen Tam, director and chair of Eugene/Springfield Asian Council hosting the Asian Celebration, said that the Asian Celebration also serves as a reminder that many aspects of U.S. pop culture have roots in Asian culture. For example, he said, George Lucas was heavily inspired by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s 1960 film The Hidden Fortress when he directed Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

The Asian Heritage and Justice Exhibit will be held in the Exhibit Hall features for the third year in a row, featuring new photos and their accompanying stories by Eugene photographer and artist Melissa “Mimi” Nolledo. The photo essays, called Our Stories: Immigrants of America, share individuals’ personal immigrant experiences in the U.S.

The Oregon Celebration will also feature arts and crafts exhibits, including displays of calligraphy, watercolor and Chinese ink brush paintings and demonstrations of ukulele crafting, pottery and Japanese bookbinding. In addition, the Martial Arts Stage will feature a variety of performances, including karate, kung fu, tai chi, tae kwon do and even dances.

Although the Asian Celebration is a way for members of the Asian community to gather together, the main demographic that the celebration reaches out to is “youth and families,” according to Tam.

“We believe that kids are the next generation. We want to make sure that the next generation understands and appreciates Asian culture.”

David Yuen Tam, Director/Chair, Eugene/Springfield Asian Council

As Tam looks toward future Asian Celebrations, he hopes to include more diversity in entertainment. Although he believes it is vital to honor tradition, he wants to include Asian pop culture in upcoming celebrations. For example, he is looking to include K-pop performances next year.

More information about the Asian Celebration of 2019 can be found on the Asian Celebration website. Tickets can be ordered through the website as well.