A First-Hand Look at the Knoxville Asian Festival

By Brianna Giles

On August 26, 2019, Knoxville, Tennessee’s sixth annual Asian Festival took place. This free admission festival was started by the nonprofit Asian Culture of TN back in 2014 to showcase the Asian culture. Executive director Kumi Alderman does a lot for the Asian community in Knoxville and surrounding cities. While 3,000 people attended the first event, 2018's festival drew in 40,000 people to its small location right in the heart of downtown! In 2019, it was moved to the World’s Fair site, which accommodated three acres of activities.

Every year the festival represents many Asian countries through booths, traditional performances, activities, food, and much more. Some of the countries include Korea, Japan, China, India, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, and many more. There were also K-pop and J-pop performances along with a cosplay contest.

To kick off the festival, a parade of countries takes place. Each country holds either banners that say where they are from or their country’s flag. Many participants also wear traditional clothing and stay in them throughout the whole festival. This year's parade ended at the amphitheater where each country walked up on stage and introduced themselves along with how to say hello in their language. 

I stopped by the Korean booth, where a  former language teacher of mine was volunteering. The booth had grown bigger than past years. When you first walk up, there were framed paintings that represented Korea. One table featured many traditional Korean drums, masks, and other unique items. Also displayed was the Korean flag. Another table featured pictures and books remembering the Korean War Veterans. There were also brochures and magazines on Korea for purchase. You could also try on a traditional hanbok. The last table in the area had face painting and two traditional games festival goers could play. My brother played Tuho (투호) a few times. 

There were many traditional food vendors to choose from. You could find traditional Korean food throughout the food park. 

Hey Bear Cafe’s booth sold Boba.

Another booth sold Boba in light bulb shaped cups.

One booth was selling tornado potatoes. 

Dragon Cupbop is a Korean food truck that sells Korean noodles that come with rice and lettuce, and you can choose from five different toppings and four different sauces. Tomo Restaurant sold Korean tacos, kimchi fries, bulgogi egg rolls, and more!

On the long list of performances spanning from two stages, there were a few Korean performers and K-pop performers, including traditional Korean percussionists!

Fusion Dance Project which features all ages, danced to "Bang Bang Bang" by BIGBANG.

Kascade, University of Tennessee’s first and only K-pop dance group, performed snippets of dances from a few K-pop songs: Twice's "Dance The Night Away," B.A.P's "Feels So Good,"  FROMIS_9's "FUN!," and ITZY's "ICY." K-pop was in full force throughout the whole festival!

The Knoxville Asian Festival has shed light on Asian cultures over the years, not only creating fun for all ages, but educating people as well. It is safe to say that this festival will only grow more and more each year and feature even more activities and performances as it brings people together from all different backgrounds and everyone has a great time!

Would you want to come to this festival? Next year's festival will take place in August 2020! What activities would you want to check out first?

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Written by Brianna Giles

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