From yo-yo stunts to folk dances and more, the talent performances at the annual Wichita Asian Festival offer a glimpse into Asia's vast diversity.
This year, about 18 performances are planned that will entertain Asian and non-Asian people alike, organizers say.
"In a diverse community like Wichita, understanding of various cultures is important to promote harmony and peace," said Mohan Kambampati, festival coordinator.
The 29th annual Asian Festival is set for 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Century II's Convention Center. Admission is free and food and merchandise will be for sale. The Wichita Asian Association, which helps coordinate the festival, will accept donations.
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The festival, which won the Special Project Award from the Arts Council in 2008, typically draws about 6,000 people.
"To the best of our knowledge, no other city in the neighboring states presents such a colorful and enriching festival," Kambampati said.
Lei Liu of the Wichita Chinese Dance Group is among newcomers to the festival's stage. She and several medical professionals make up the group, which will perform a fan dance, depicting humans in awe of nature.
Liu said she's honored to perform, and also excited to watch other Asian groups on display that night.
"I think organizing this activity is a great opportunity to show different cultures living in this area," she said.
Ron Smith, an instructor with Kim's Academy, said martial arts demonstrations continue to be a crowd favorite. Smith's group of about 15 students will demonstrate tae kwon do, which is native to Korea.
Board-breaking, Smith said, "usually gets the crowd revved up."
Kathy Ewing organized a group of adopted children and their American-born siblings to dance at the festival last year. The group, which ranges from toddlers to 9- or 10-year-olds, was so popular that people requested them to perform this year, she said.
The kid-choreographed routine is set to a Thai folk song that will honor the Asian Association's departing president, Siriporn Plangklang, Ewing said.
The emphasis on talent demonstrations even extends to the Miss Asia Contest, which coincides with the festival.
This year, contestants representing Asian countries will compete for the title currently held by 17-year-old East High student Sarah Yun.
Yun, who performed a cello solo last year as Miss Korea, will pass along her title after spending the past year volunteering at the Wichita Indochinese Center, which, among other tasks, teaches English to adult learners.
"It was a great experience overall," Yun said. "I really had a lot of fun."
If you go
wichita asian festival
What: Annual festival celebrating Asian cultures
Where: Century II Convention Hall
When: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Sat.
How much: Admission free. A wide variety of Asian foods and merchandise will be for sale.
For more information, call 316-264-9121.