Celebrate the Year of the Horse

Archive Material

For the latest on the Asian Festival, visit AsianFestivalSA.com.


Year of the Horse

Institute of Texan Cultures celebrates Asian Festival

SAN ANTONIO – The blast of fireworks heralds the coming of the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Horse at the Institute of Texan Cultures, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, February 1.
When the long string of firecrackers is finished, cymbals clash and drums pound as a Lion Dance begins and skilled dancers parade through the festival grounds, maneuvering their elaborate two-person costumes in unison. The lions chase away the evil spirits that have plagued the people in the past year, and it’s a chance to start fresh.
Behind the lions, rows upon rows of festival participants parade: a 10-person team managing a giant dragon; martial artists in their traditional garb, carrying the exotic weapons of their crafts; musicians; community leaders and dignitaries; Pacific Islanders in grass skirts blowing conch shells; and ranks of flags and banners depicting nations and organizations coming together to celebrate their Asian heritage.
With a welcome from city leaders and festival organizers, guests are free to wander around the grounds. Inside the museum, a stage dominates the main exhibit floor. Throughout the day, dancers in their ethnic costumes and musicians with instruments of every kind will entertain the gathered crowds.
On the third floor, lectures discuss fascinating topics like Chinese medicine and acupuncture and principles of Hinduism. On the first floor, a gallery hosts demonstrations of Bonsai and Ikebana floral arrangement. Across the hall, guests flood into a classroom for showings of Japanese-style animation called animé. Fans of the art form sit and color animation cells with their favorite characters. Not far away, a group of old Chinese friends shuffles the tiles, preparing to teach the game of Mah-Jongg to anyone who might like to join them.
Guests crowd into a nearby kitchen, watching as cooks teach lessons on how to prepare Asian delights from China, Japan, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. As they exit the kitchen and head through a gallery, they see photos of Bhutanese refugees in refugee camps; their pride and sense of community unbroken, and hope shining bright as they wait for news that they are heading to a new home.
Outside, another stage attracts festival goers. Around the museum’s veranda, merchants offer exotic wares, such as native clothing, home decorations, jewelry and a variety of souvenirs to commemorate the festive occasion.
Delicious smells waft by from the nearby patios, beckoning guests to the food booths with delectable offerings of meats, vegetables, noodles and rice, with aromatic spices and savory sauces. Woks sizzle and cooks work frantically, keeping pace with the throngs of customers buying plates of their favorite Asian foods.
Walking up a nearby path, other guests have made their way to the museum’s Back 40, where martial artists have gathered to demonstrate their techniques. Their styles are varied, from swordsmen in elaborate armor practicing Kendo, to others moving in the slow, meditative steps of Tai Chi. Others focus on practicality and economy of movement designed as a system of self-defense. The crowds applaud as the demonstrators, young and old alike, show the strength, precision and discipline of their skills.
The Asian Festival is an immersive experience and an opportunity to learn from the Asian community by participating in their celebrations along with them. For 27 years, it has been a tradition in San Antonio, and a custom clearly aligned with the mission of the Institute of Texan Cultures: creating an understanding and appreciation of Texas and Texans.
The 2014 Asian Festival is 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at the Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. For ticket information and additional details on the festival, visit TexanCultures.com.
The Institute of Texan Cultures serves as the forum for the understanding and appreciation of Texas and Texans through research, collections, exhibits, and programs. The museum strives to become the nation’s premier institution of contemporary cultural and ethnic studies focusing on Texans and the diverse cultural communities that make Texas what it is. An agency of the Vice President for Community Services at The University of Texas at San Antonio and a Smithsonian Affiliate, the 182,000 square foot complex, featuring 45,000 square feet of exhibit space and five re-creation Texas Frontier period structures, is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus in downtown San Antonio. Resources for multiple audiences are available at TexanCultures.com.




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