Chinese Americans and people who love Chinese culture gathered at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Jan. 26 to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake.
Surprisingly, it seemed like the majority of the audience watching the many performances consisted of white parents with an Asian child. There were many Chinese people there as well and it was great to see such a diverse crowd here in the Triangle.
The festival was full of wonderful food and entertainment. As soon as I entered the building, the mouth watering smells hit me. Savory blends of vegetables and spices, beef and pork left you wondering where the food was and was there any left?
I was performing with my Kung Fu class, so food was provided. As I ate my spicy cucumbers (delicious but unexpected as they were cold and smelled sweet) I watched through the curtains as a group of men ran around the stage carrying a dragon puppet.
The festival was heavy on music and traditional dance–some of the performances included singers, such as Ye Ning Feng, as well as multiple performances of the traditional Dragon Dance by different groups of performers. The dancers together form a dragon with their costumes consisting of different parts of the dragon, and it was exciting to see the looks on the dancers face as they smiled with joy.
After I ate, I bought a Chinese soda called Hey Song Sarsaparilla. Apparently, what old cowboys drank is different from what Americans drink today. While our root beer tastes strongly of vanilla, the Hey Song Sarsaparilla tastes more natural. After I drank it, I wasn’t left with the headache I have when I drink most sugary sodas.
While I was enjoying my soda, I strolled around, looking at all the different booths. One that interested me was a Buddhist stand with monks and scrolls. While I couldn’t understand them (they were speaking only in Chinese), they seemed to draw quite a crowd.
There were ample opportunities to attend workshops to learn about local opportunities to be instructed in Chinese language or arts, including dance.
Everyone is invited to come out next year to welcome the Year of the Horse in early 2014.