A celebration of culture, life, and community is something that is both appreciated and necessary in the eyes of those who aren’t always able to showcase what defines them. In the warmth of the June sun and under the always caring eyes of George Sayavong watching from above, the annual Asian Fest blooms and breathes along with the culture celebrated there.
George Sayavong, one of the co-founders of Asian Fest, is affectionately referenced as the balance and mediation with the group. Without him, my fellow co-founder, I would’ve given up multiple times due to the difficulty they faced organizing the event. Many people they contacted were hesitant to volunteer for the event, and finding people to perform, cook, and attend became even more daunting.
However, George didn’t give up. George had a butterfly effect. Everything he touched, blossomed. With his kind touch, the festival became something to be proud of.
The Fest began as an idea that stemmed from my college life in Des Moines, where I volunteered at CelebrAsian. After returning to Siouxland and realizing that the community didn’t have the same type of gathering, I brought the idea up to George. With a broad smile and endless positivity, he said, “Let’s do it!” and the planning began.
One of the challenges that presented itself was the layout. How would they find a place where both food and entertainment could be offered at once? Where would the community be able to join together and feel connected?
I admit it took some time to figure out exactly how to lay out the festival. It started with separate shelters that offered different aspects of the festival. Still, it was difficult for guests to grasp the entirety of the celebration when they had to travel between two different shelters. The committee and I realized that we bring the festival closer by creating a circle with a single shelter so everyone could enjoy the festivities.
While Asian Fest is a day of fun, food, and performance, the ultimate goal is to create an understanding and unity between the Asian and non-Asian communities. As our younger generation becomes Americanized, we typically lose our culture. With the loss of culture and the gap between nationality and traditions, Asian Fest aims to bridge the gap and continue the traditions passed down from generation to generation in various Asian cultures. Siouxland is home to multitudes of Asian ethnicities: Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Indian, and others call Siouxland their home. With the festival, we hope to connect them in a community they can be proud of.
The Fest will also reach those who don’t have ties to the Asian community. Pulling them into the festival creates an understanding they might not have seen before and, with the many opportunities to experience the culture, brings them closer to a community they may not know.
FREE TO ATTEND
Saturday, May 27 | 12 pm to 4 pm
Yummi Blox Food Truck Lot
700 West 7th Street
Food available for purchase
Family fun event
By Peggy La, owner of Yummi Blox and Hong Kong Supermarket. Peggy is also the co-founder of the Siouxland Asian Festival, serves on the Commission of Asian and Pacific Islanders for the State of Iowa, is a member of the Inclusive Sioux City Advisory Committee, and board member of Siouxland Public Radio.