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Archive for "Community"

Zumbathon® Instructor Appreciation Event

Posted on April 2, 2017 by under Community, Zumba.    

March was a super busy month for which I am still recovering. It was a whirlwind with something going on every weekend. I still can’t believe I survived.

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At least I got to spend lots of time with my favorite people. This is a picture of Missy and Brian at the new Los Cocos in Andover after the Shake Your Shamrocks Zumbathon®. This was the night that we introduced her to the joys of $1.99 margaritas everyday.

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The next day, we saw everyone again because I hosted a “thank you” get together for the instructors who generously volunteered their time to teach at the Zumbathon®.

I try to be purposeful about everything I do, so I had three main objectives for this event:

  1. I bought matching t-shirts for all the instructors to wear at the Dance For Kids’ Sake Zumbathon® as a “thank you” for their participation and I needed a way to get the shirts to everyone without having to drive all over town to make shirt deliveries.
  2. I needed to make sure that everyone knew the location of the Zumbathon® ahead of time so none of the instructors would get lost and be late on the day of the event.
  3. It was a good way to have a small, fun get together to show everyone how much they are appreciated.

Pat, Charis, and Stephanie all got the black shirts. Todd, Amy, and Christina got the aqua blue shirts. Andrea, Missy, and I got the neon green shirts.

The event was an instructor-appreciation-slash-shirt-cutting-party, where everyone got to pick up their shirts and bling it out too. To that end, I brought a bunch of old shirts for us to practice on.

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This was one of my “practice” shirts.

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Charis (foreground) and Andrea (background) both did “practice” rounds as well.

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I think Missy must have brought her own “practice” shirt because I do not recognize that one. I don’t think it was part of my shirt stash.

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Pat did a “practice” round also.

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I have no idea why everyone insisted on cutting on the floor, but they all seemed to be fine with it. Here are a few more pictures…

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Here’s Charis contemplating her design.

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Here’s Andrea’s finished product.

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We brought in cake and sandwiches to celebrate Stephanie’s birthday.

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We made her cut her own cake. LOL.

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I did two “practice” rounds at the event but didn’t end up finalizing my shirt design until the next day. Here’s the finished product.

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I had to be creative and strategic about where I made my cuts because, while I wanted to shrink the one-size-fits-most to fit me, I didn’t want to lose any of the writing on the shirt both on the front and back.

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Rather than cutting along the bottom to shorten the shirt (it was almost to my knees #ShortPersonProblems), I decided to cinch the sides to hike it up to a more manageable length.

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I braided the back of the shirt to shrink the width of it but I had to start below the Zumba® logo/design because I didn’t want to lose any of it.

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Here’s a close-up shot of the braid design.

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Here’s another view of the back and side.

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I decided the front was too boring so I cut some slits on the right shoulder.

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It’s still pretty boring on the front but there wasn’t much I could do because I wanted to keep all of the writing. It turned out pretty well overall. This is by far my favorite “destroyed shirt” to date.

When I write my post about the actual Dance for Kids’ Sake Zumbathon® event you’ll see how everyone’s shirts turned out. Everyone did a fabulous job of customizing their respective shirts. All of our shirts turned out different and uniquely our own. Stay tuned!

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Shake Your Shamrocks

Posted on April 1, 2017 by under Community, Zumba.    

We’ve had back-to-back fun Zumba events in the community of late. First, there was the Zumba Love Party at East YMCA; then Step Up & Dance at West YMCA; then Member Madness at North YMCA; there was also a Blacklight Z-Party at South YMCA; and finally we had “Shake Your Shamrocks” at Andover YMCA.

Our event in Andover was so named because we decided to hold it on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

As someone who cannot resist a good Zumbathon®, I attended many of these but I was only involved in organizing the member appreciation event at my home branch Andover YMCA. There are actually five of us Zumba® instructors who teach Zumba® classes in Andover — Tiffany on Monday mornings, Charis on Monday nights, Mandy on Tuesday nights, Hannah on Thursday nights, and me on the weekends — but only four of us were available that Friday. Tiffany could not take the time off her regular job so she sat this one out. She participated in the one at South YMCA though, so she had already done one of these events.

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Charis, Hannah, Mandy, and I decided to teach six songs each. Mandy put together a killer playlist. Charis and I volunteered to take care of the decorations. Charis got streamers and these dangly star things. I had some balloons set aside for the Dance For Kids’ Sake Zumbathon® event that I was organizing so I decided to dig out all of the green balloons from that bunch and use it for this event.

Initially, we weren’t sure if we should have the event in the studio or the gym so we reserved both. Jackie was there that night to set up the sound system in the gym just in case we needed the larger space. Since she was around and she’s much taller than Charis and me, we asked for her help with taping up the streamers at the top of the mirror. You can kind of see the decorations in the picture below.

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I think it turned out pretty well. I was a little bit worried because I popped three of the balloons in transit but we had more than enough to make the studio look festive.

We were able to stay in the studio because, in addition to it being St. Patty’s Day, all three of our local college teams (KU, K-State, and Wichita State) had basketball games that evening. We still had a pretty good turnout (about 55 people) but not enough that we had to overflow to the gym.

It actually wasn’t too crowded in the studio. We had plenty of room for everyone. And, it turned out better, as far as I’m concerned, because the studio has a better sound system and mirrors. Dancing is way more fun with mirrors!

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Here’s a better picture of our group. Those who stayed for the photo at the end, anyway. Some people don’t do photos.

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Here are some action shots we took during the Zumbathon®.

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This is Mandy in the green shirt in the foreground.

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Mandy did a fabulous job of mirroring. That’s when you face the class and do a mirror image of the moves. She did this a few times throughout which, I think, is super helpful. The recommended way is always to face the class because it allows you to connect with the students better. We can get by without doing it because we have mirrors. However, one of my goals for 2017 is to teach facing the class more.

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Christina came late but she made it!

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This is Alicia and her daughter Kariana.

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They have become regulars on weekends. I love having them in my class.

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This is my friend Andrea behind me. She is also a licensed Zumba® instructor. She started teaching classes at Derby Rec this month.

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Of course, I had to get a selfie that shows off our fabulous decorations that Charis, Jackie, and I worked hard to put up. We were going for festive yet tasteful and understated and I think we achieved it.

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I love that we had this fabulous photo backdrop. I wish more people would have taken advantage of it. Here are some.

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I had to demonstrate how it’s done. LOL.

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Here we have another mother-daughter duo, Sonia and Carolina.

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I love these two for going all out. I think they are regulars from Downtown YMCA.

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They’re party of Missy’s crew.

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We had a few Andover YMCA faces but we had great representation of Zumba® lovers from all over the city, which is actually what I liked best about the event. Missy brought in a ton of people. While we hosted the party to show our appreciation from our members, it was great that we got to share it with all members not just those who are based in Andover.

The event was actually free to non-members as well so it was a great opportunity to check out the Zumba® classes offered at the Y, Andover in particular. And, besides the event being free, our group exercise coordinator Kristen gave us bottles of water and t-shirts for everyone. I think everyone who attended the event got one and we still had some left over. She really hooked us up.

I know that St. Patty’s Day won’t fall on a Friday next year but this event turned out so well that I hope we do it again next year. It was fabulous! I wish you all could have been there to dance with us.

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Big Brothers Big Sisters Fundraising

Posted on March 13, 2017 by under Community.    

I know I have been quiet lately. I can’t believe it has been two weeks since my last blog post. I’m still very much alive, in case you were wondering. The reason I’ve been MIA lately is that almost all of my spare time has been consumed with planning and preparing for our upcoming Dance For Kids’ Sake Zumbathon® for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

My individual fundraising is off to a pretty solid start. We still have about six more weeks until the end of the fundraising period and I’ve already surpassed my personal fundraising total from last year. And, we haven’t even done our major fundraising events yet.

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Dance For Kids’ Sake is the big one, which you can learn about here, but we also have a couple other fundraising events coming up.

We’re getting some help from Chick-fil-A and Chipotle, two of my favorite places to eat.

If you’re going to eat out anyway, at least make it count. Our spirit day at the Chick-fil-A on Central and Rock Road is March 21, Tuesday.

If you eat there anytime from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM and mention that you want to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, 20% of your total bill will be donated to our fundraising campaign. I believe drive-thru works as well. The key is to mention the organization when ordering and paying for your food.

Here’s a picture of our Chick-fil-A flyer:

Chick-fil-A Spirit Night

Our fundraising night at the Maple and Ridge Chipotle is April 3, Monday, from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Chipotle will donate 50% of the total to our fundraising campaign as long as you bring one of our event flyers, show them a picture of the flyer, or simply mention that you would like your purchase to support Big Brothers Big Sisters. You could even order food online and still support the cause by selecting the “pay-in-person” option.

Here’s a picture of our Chipotle flyer:

Chipotle Flyer

You’ll notice that one restaurant is on the East side, while the other is on the West side. That’s because Wichitans are notorious for not wanting to drive across town. No matter what side of town you live in, you can still support our fundraising efforts! Please mark your calendars and eat at one or both places on the designated days. You will never have a more satisfying meal. I promise.

May your hearts be as full as your bellies. Cheers!

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YMCA Annual Celebration

Posted on February 27, 2017 by under Community, Events.    

My new Lularoe Amelia dress arrived just in time for the YMCA Annual Celebration so I didn’t have to figure out what to wear to it. I wore my Lularoe dress to work and took it straight to the dinner.

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The dress actually got quite a few compliments at work. My favorite part of this style of dress is the pockets.

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I’m not sure what was going on with my hair that morning but it was very 70s.

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Brian was off work that day (he was actually off almost all week because they were redoing the floors of their office) but he put on his three-piece suit for me anyway. What a great hubby he is!

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Speaking of great husbands, I ran into Johnna’s husband at the event.

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A little bit later, Johnna came by our table and we took a selfie together. Of course, Brian and I had to selfie also.

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I love going to this event because you learn about the Y’s new initiatives and you get to preview the campaign videos. They always do such a great job with the fundraising campaigns. This year it was a real treat seeing some familiar faces in the videos. This is the one with Missy and Todd.

They participated in the very first late night program for teens. It was really cool. I hope they roll the program out to all the Y branches in the area. We have the best YMCA facilities in the nation and it would be possible without the support of the community. I love Wichita!

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Wichita Asian Festival

Posted on November 6, 2016 by under Community, Events.    

I was told I needed to get there early so I can accept a certificate on behalf of my company; and so we did. We walked past the long line of people waiting to get in and just walked right in. LOL.

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That’s why you don’t see anyone else behind us in this photo.

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This is me accepting the certificate. Mission accomplished.

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Of course we had to walk around and sample all of the diverse Asian fare. Ran into several people we knew, including Tony.

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There were so many people there!

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I managed to talk Brian into staying to watch some of the performances but we didn’t plan on staying for the entire thing because the event lasts all evening (until 10 PM) and we’d been there since five o’clock since I was told to come early.

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This Indian Kathak dance was one of the first performances we saw. There had already been a few performances prior to this one representing India, Japan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and China, which we missed while we were waking around.

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It was followed by a Taiji, Baguazhang, and Shaolin Kung Fu demonstration from the Grace Wu Kung Fu School.

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ME: That woman in blue in the middle is really good.
BRIAN: She should be. That’s Grace Wu. Did you realize that she’s 104 years old?
ME: No way!

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She’s not really 104. Brian just likes to pull my leg because I believe everything. He thinks it’s hilarious.

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Overall it was a great demo from Grace Wu and the rest of the Grace Wu Kung Fu School team. It made me want to learn kung fu and martial arts.

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Amira Dance Productions did a great job on their demo as well. I loved it when the busted into their Chammak Challo routine.

It’s such a fun song. Here’s the official video for it below…

Eleanor introduced me to this song a couple of years ago. It’s one of my most favorite Zumba routines that she does.

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Here are a few pictures from the Taiko performance by Three Trails Taiko from Olathe, Kansas. It was my first time seeing a Taiko performance.

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This is a picture of the East High School’s Lion Dance team’s performance.

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Brian and I stayed and watched the Miss Wichita Asian Festival pageant.

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I used to think the whole thing was rigged and hokey so I’d never watched it until now. I must say, I now have a greater appreciation for it. These ladies are talented.

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Here’s a special performance by the 2015 Miss Wichita Asian Festival, Quan Huynh. She is so cute and adorable.

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I really thought the Miss Vietnam representative was going to take it again this year. Their candidate showed such poise and grace and I thoroughly enjoyed her talent demonstration. She was clearly a fan favorite.

Here’s a still photo of Miss Vietnam.

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Jenni attended the event with us.

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Here’s another talent performance. I think this is the pageant contestant representing China.

I really loved seeing all of the elaborate cultural outfits. We used to call them “national costumes” (which I still catch myself saying on occasion) but we are very PC these days (or try to be, anyway). LOL.

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The Miss Philippines candidate, Nikita Hammond, played “Bayan Ko” on her flute and then also sang it.

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She actually did pretty well. I believe she won the People’s Choice Award. Rightfully so, because she had the entire Filipino community behind her and we have quite a contingent here in the Wichita area.

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Here’s all of the candidates for this year’s pageant.

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I know the participation has not been as great in the past but, this year, several Asian countries were represented including Nepal, Japan, China, Lebanon, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Philippines.

The Wichita Asian Festival Pageant, which began in 1984, has really grown in the last few years. Now the Indian, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, and Filipino communities even host preliminary pageants to select their respective representatives for the Miss Wichita Asian Festival.

Our local television news anchor/reporter/celebrity Lily Wu has really done a lot to legitimize this pageant. True to her pageant platform of years past (Celebrate Cultural Diversity), she has done a lot for the Wichita Asian Association and celebrating cultural diversity as a whole.

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I’m not sure about previous pageant judges but they got some very distinguished people to judge this year’s Miss Wichita Asian Festival Pageant including Susan Pompeo, wife of Congressman Mike Pompeo; Mayor Jeff Longwell; boxer and Olympic medalist Nico Hernandez; Mrs. Kansas United States Charissa Cederberg; Amy Williams, Global Community Relations Senior Manager at Spirit Aerosystems; Mercedes Gonzales Lopez from Farmers Insurance; and our Director of Distribution System Operations at work, Helen Wimsatt.

Brian and I got a photo with Nico during one of the breaks.

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They did this thing where there’s a short break and then there’s some other things that happen (more cultural performances) and they wait to announce the pageant winner until the very end. It’s to keep you from leaving and it works.

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We decided to walk around again while we were waiting for the results. We went back to the ICTea booth to get me a boba tea refill only to find that they were completely out. While I didn’t get any tea this time around, I did see Vanessa and Thuy this time. It was just Kathy there the first time around. Anyway, I had to get a picture with my favorite Nails & Beyond girls.

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The lechon, which I didn’t see earlier probably because it was surrounded by too many people, was completely tapped out also. Almost all the booths were decimated by this time. Hardly anybody had anything left to sell. But it made sense considering how late it was. It’s good. As a vendor, you don’t want to take any food home. You want everything gone.

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While we were waiting we saw an awesome performance of Kapa Malong Malong, a traditional Maranao (Philippine) folk dance performed by women wearing a malong, which looks like a giant infinity scarf.

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Tita Rose, Tita Mae, and Marybeth were all part of the dance group.

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These are some of my favorite photos from their performance.

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I got the entire dance performance on video but had to split it into two parts because YouTube wouldn’t allow me to upload the large video file all at once.

Totally impressed with the versatility of the malong, Brian was like, “How come you don’t have one of these bedsheet thingies?” LMAO.

There were two other performances after Kapa Malong Malong and a total of six performances during the second half of the program. None were as good. Just kidding! I think mostly I was just ready to hear the winner of this year’s pageant.

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As much as I liked our representative Nikita Hammond, my pick to win was actually the candidate from Vietnam Betty Giang. She’s got such natural beauty and showed complete poise doing the pageant.

I’m not sure how she did in the preliminary interviews and the parts of the pageant that we didn’t get to see that evening (because they happen before the Wichita Asian Festival) but she answered her question well that night and she performed her talent, a Vietnamese cultural dance, very gracefully and well.

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Betty Giang was the runner-up and earned the title of Miss Asian Cultural Ambassador 2016. I think she had a lot of supporters in the audience because, among the cheers and applause, there was also some booing. Clearly, it wasn’t just me who picked her to win this year.

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The representative from India, Greeshma Reddy, was crowned as this year’s Miss Asian Festival title. While also beautiful and talented in her own right, she just wasn’t as memorable to me as Betty.

Greeshma also had many supporters in the audience because there was lots of cheering and clapping.

Brian and I left immediately at the conclusion of the pageant, which also happened to be the conclusion of the event because they saved the crowning of Miss Wichita Asian Festival 2016 until the very end. We didn’t linger because we didn’t plan on staying that late. Jenni had left long ago. Brian was expecting to only stay a couple of hours and thought he would still have time to play video games after. LOL.

They did such a great job with the event that it didn’t seem like five hours had passed. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun and time definitely flew by. I was completely entertained the entire time and didn’t feel bored at all. I looked at the time on my watch (it’s actually a Nike FuelBand but because I haven’t been working out a lot lately, it’s mostly just a wristwatch these days) and was completely shocked that it had been over five hours. I had no idea that we were there that long.

I told Brian it felt like the scene in the Percy Jackson movie where they get trapped in the Lotus Flower Club. We got so totally immersed in the event and completely lost track of time. At least I did. I hope Brian had a great time too. If he didn’t, he was a good sport about it because he didn’t act bored and didn’t ask to leave ten million times. I have such an awesome husband.

Anyway, if you’ve never been to the Wichita Asian Festival you’re totally missing out. I know I say this about everything but I mean it. This is the one event we have each year that truly showcases Asian culture and is a feast for the senses. Lots of vendors come together and participate so you get to try delicacies from various countries that wouldn’t normally be available any other time. And, you get all of these in one place so you don’t have to drive all over town in search of them. You just have to bring your happy self to Century II. LOL.

The number of vendors is almost too much but not as overwhelming as the amount of people who descend upon Century II for the event. It’s hard enough to find what you’re looking because the vendor booths aren’t clearly marked or separated (that would be a suggestion for next year – better vendor signage and it needs to be high up) but even more difficult when there’s a mob of people surrounding the booth. You can’t read what they’re offering let alone know which booth it is.

That’s the reason why I missed out on the lechon. I didn’t see it and didn’t realize it was available until it was almost all gone.

I was super excited about getting to eat some dinuguan, though. Brian isn’t a fan and I don’t know how to make it so it takes special events like this one for me actually get some.

Of course I’m most excited about the abundance of Filipino food but there’s something for everyone. Every Asian country is represented, just about. There’s also vendors that strictly focus on gifts and knickknacks so it’s a great place to find one of kind present for that special Asian (or wannabe Asian) person in your life.

The Miss Wichita Asian Festival Pageant is obviously a huge draw but the cultural performances are fantastic. It’s not often that you get exposed to all of these in one place. Really just once a year. At the Wichita Asian Festival. The best part about it is the admission is free so the only money you need to bring is for the food, drinks, and gifts that you’ll purchase.

If you have never been, I recommend that you check it out at least once. And then you’ll be back year after year. I guarantee it.

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