St. Paul – The sights, sounds and smells of Asia will consume Lake Phalen on July 14-15 at the 11th annual Dragon Festival. The event continues with the dragon boat races, ethnic entertainment, foods and activities, and will also feature an Indonesian wedding and curry cooking demonstration.
In addition to the 24 dragon boat teams paddling on Lake Phalen, the organizers of this Pan Asian cultural celebration are excited about the many attractions at this year`s event.
A portrayal of a traditional Indonesian wedding will immediately follow the Opening Ceremony at noon, Saturday, July 14. The wedding ceremony is based on Minangkabau custom where the bride is decked out in highly ornate headdress and clothes trimmed in gold. Minangkabau, "victorious buffalo," is a Muslim tribe in West Sumatra, the largest island in Indonesia. The Minangkabau tribe is one of a handful in the world that is truly matriarchal.
Local award-winning culinary professional, author and teacher HYPERLINK "http://www.raghavaniyer.com/"Raghavan Iyer will be presenting a curry demonstration on Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Iyer`s new book, "660 Curries: The Gateway to the World of Indian Cooking," will be published this fall. He will discuss the building blocks that are the basis of curry sauces from both northern and southern India; the herbs and spices that orchestrate saucy and essential flavors! Iyer will be happy to sign copies of his other books, "The Turmeric Trail" and "Betty Crocker: Indian Home Cooking" which will be available for purchase at the Festival.
Dragon boat races are an integral part of the Dragon Festival. They bring to life the history of dragon boat racing and encourages Asian youth to participate in a team sport that originated in Asia.
This year, 24 teams will be practicing on Saturday and will race on Sunday. Each team of 18-20 paddlers will board a sleek, ornately designed boat with a dragon head and tail. The boats are approximately 40-ft. long and 4 ft. wide.
For those who enjoy physical activities, Wilderness Inquiry will be providing free canoe rides. Enjoy the beauty of the lake and view of the dragon boats. Canoe rides will be available both afternoons, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Chat with representatives from various cultural groups to learn more about the different customs and traditions at the Community Village.
For art lovers, Dragon Festival has much to offer. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom will be on hand to dedicate the latest work of renowned Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin`s. His "Meditation," sculpture will be dedicated on Sunday.
The sculpture was created last year as part of the International Stone Carving Symposium (Minnesota Rocks!) sponsored by Public Art St. Paul that engaged 14 stone sculptors from throughout Minnesota and the world to create new public artworks for St. Paul`s public places. His previous work includes a commission to create the sculptural centerpiece of the national memorial to slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., on the national Mall in Washington, D.C.
Also on Sunday, local emerging Hmong artist Seexeng Lee will be unveiling a 5 x 8` relief painting titled "Unity in Diversity." The painting commissioned by the Dragon Festival and funded by the City of St. Paul`s Cultural STAR Program, "embodies the spirit of the Festival that aims to unite the various Asian Pacific communities within the Twin Cities," according to the artist. Lee plans to have Festival participants help complete the painting.
The painting unveiling will be accompanied by the world premiere of "Unity in Diversity," an original composition by select local Asian Pacific musicians under the direction of Rick Shiomi, artistic director of Mu Performing Arts. The composition includes Korean and Taiko drums, Chinese and Cambodian flutes, Hmong qeej and Javanese gamelans. The piece is funded by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Award-winning Chinese watercolor artist HYPERLINK http://www.asianartstrokes.com/artists.html" Christine Leong, a native of Hong Kong who now resides in Southern California, will be on hand to demonstrate her painting style. Leong specializes in kois and florals. Her paintings reflect unique and original Chinese watercolor images on rice paper that combine Asian and Western techniques. Leong also donated one of her prints, "Tranquility," for Sunday`s silent auction.
As with past years, this year`s Opening Ceremony on Saturday noon will include a dragon dance and blessing of the boats and boat teams by Thai monks. The story of how dragon boat races came to be will be recited by a local actor, followed by the traditional act of "awakening" the dragon.
Throughout the two days, there will be many cultural performances ranging from Mongolian acrobats to Chinese guzheng players to Japanese dancers, a wide variety of martial arts demonstrations including Thai and Chinese, and supervised children activities.
Enjoy the authentic foods of many ethnic Asian cultures. Explore new tastes or enjoy trusted favorites at reasonable prices. Find the menu online at www.dragonfestival.org.
Please note that there will be no parking at Phalen Park itself. Festival organizers are arranging free off-site parking with shuttle service to the park every 15 minutes from Johnson High School (1349 Arcade Street) and the Park & Ride lot at Hwy 61 and County Road C.
Source: www.aapress.com (9 Juli 20007)