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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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