Utah Asian Festival celebrates 35 years

By Patrick Cassell

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, June 12 2012 2:45 p.m. MDT

One of the many performances at Saturday's Utah Asian Festival in Sandy was on Japanese drums by the group Kenshin Taiko.

Patrick Cassell

SANDY — The Utah Asian Festival was held Saturday at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. The day’s activities marked the 35th time the event has been held. The festival appeared to have drawn hundreds to view the acts on stage, shop the crafts and partake in ethnic foods from many cultures of Asia.

The festival was organized as a fundraiser by the Asian Association of Utah. The association operates the Refugee and Immigrant Center at 155 S. 300 West in Salt Lake City. The center’s website says it "is a private, nonprofit and community-based organization. ... Our mission is to improve the quality of life of refugees and other immigrants.”

Maria Maier, who was in charge of publicity and marketing for the festival, said self-reliance is key to the assistance the center offers its clients.

The program's many performances included dancing, drummers, martial arts demonstrations and the Asians Got Talent competition. Surrounding the stage was an Asian marketplace with numerous vendors selling art, crafts and other Asian-inspired goods.

One person of note present was Ben McAdams, Democratic candidate for Salt Lake County mayor. He was invited on stage and gave a few remarks.

The festival also had activities for children, including face painting and kite making. The program included a raffle drawing for several gift baskets donated by community businesses, organizations and individuals. The closing event was the talent show.

The festival’s website shares some history about the annual event. It says, “The Asian Festival began in 1977 when an influx of Southeast Asian refugees began settling in Utah. The festival was to introduce the majority population to these new minority groups. The Chinese, Japanese and Korean communities pooled their resources together for this historic event.”

Patrick Cassell is a journalist living in Utah. You can read his views on many things related to Apple at iTechCrossroads.com.

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