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Annual Asian Festival shows OSU roots with dance team

The 18th Annual Asian Festival will blossom this weekend, and as it showcases Asian culture and heritage, it will also show its Ohio State roots.
The nonprofit Asian Festival Corporation organized the festival. Visitors can taste Asian foods, shop for Asian products in the market area and learn about culture through exhibitions, performances, games and Dragonboat racing. There will also be a career fair and health pavilion.
As May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, the festival will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday with the last event scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on Sunday at Franklin Park Conservatory. Dragon Boat racing, a Chinese water sport, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday on the Scioto River in Genoa Park.
Yung-Chen Lu, a emeritus mathematics professor at OSU and president of Ohio Asian American Health Coalition, proposed the Asian Festival first to Asian-American Community Service Council on July 25, 1994 to encourage Asian people to get together in one place and to foster a healthy lifestyle.
OSU Chinese Oriental Folk Dance Team is scheduled to perform at 2:20 p.m. on Sunday.
Jinguo Gao, president of the Chinese Oriental Folk Dance Team and a first-year graduate student in statistics, said that six of the group’s 12 members will perform two different kinds of dance.
“I think the goal of our team is demonstrating Chinese dance and showing a culture connection to many people at the festival,” Gao said. “It is a good way to spread multicultural aspects into Columbus. Also, it is very interesting to see a bunch of different amateurs’ and professionals’ performances.”
The festival has more than 30 sponsors, including Nationwide, OSU Wexner Medical Center, Honda and American Electric Power.
“As our tradition is continually growing annually, we are getting strong support from the state, city government as well as local businesses, volunteers and the community,” Lu said.
Lu said admission, activities, parking and shuttle services will be provided for free.
“I don’t want to charge anyone a penny to come to the Asian Festival,” Lu said. “If it is free, then everyone is equal. My vision is to make everyone equal and feel the same way. We don’t charge anyone anything.”
In the Dragon Boat races, 16 teams of 22 people – 20 paddlers, one drummer and one steerer – will paddle canoes with a dragon head in the front and complete the race.
“Dragon Boat helps to build team spirit,” Lu said. “This is the highlight of the festival. I hope people show their teamwork and enjoy the race.”
Lu said professional martial arts and dance teams will also perform in celebration of the Columbus bicentennial. Cultural performances had been limited to two ethnic groups in the past.
“We open up our performance in particular with the celebration of bicentennial Columbus,” Lu said. “I want to show Asians are part of the growth of bicentennial Columbus through this festival.”
Erin Hope, a fourth-year in Japanese, said she plans to go to the Asian Festival.
“I really like to experience new cultures, so I think the Asian Festival is a really good opportunity for people to experience culture first hand,” Hope said. “I think people can enjoy food from all over Asia, watch the performances and do some interactive things in the Asian Festival.”  

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