By Jamie Sun
Northwest Asian Weekly
The 39th annual Dragon Fest is coming to the International District July 12 and July 13, with several new events, including a food walk, performances, a night market, Sakura Con, and a Recycling Fashion Contest.
Dragon Fest, the premier Asian American culture celebration in the Pacific Northwest, brings about 30,000 people to the heart of Seattle’s historic Chinatown International District each year. The festival is free.
The annual food walk features about 35 restaurants in Chinatown, Little Saigon, and Japan Town. Participating restaurants serve “$2 bites” of food from Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia throughout the weekend. Drawings from stamps collected at various restaurants will be held for many prizes, including an iPad.
The main stage will feature about 30 performances, including Beacon Studio’s Massive Monkeys, martial arts demonstrations, Northwest Kung Fu, Ail-Ku line dances, and Japanese Taiko drumming.
This year’s Dragon Fest is also bringing back the Sakura Con anime costume contest, with prizes, on Sunday night of the festival. A new feature will be Saturday’s night market from 8 p.m. to midnight, with 25 food trucks. There will also be an all-ages outdoor dance party during the evening.
Also new this year is the two-day “International VIP Passport.” For $25 dollars, VIP pass holders can cut in line to trucks, and the first 300 people will receive a Chinatown International District tote bag and an official 2014 Dragon Fest and Night Market poster. Pass holders over 21 can enter the Kirin Beer VIP Lounge.
“This is the biggest pan Asian Festival that Seattle has,” said Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) Executive Director Don Blakeney. “It is a way of engaging with the rest of Seattle, not only the neighborhood, but also the different cultures that are involved here.”
CIDBIA Program Director Ben Grace noted that Dragon Fest benefits the neighborhood because it brings thousands of people who normally don’t visit Chinatown. “It gives them an excuse and reason to come to our neighborhood to walk around, and to be exposed to our shops, our restaurants, and everything we have to offer. Hopefully, they will come back after the event,” said Grace.
The purpose of the event, said Blakeney, is to showcase the neighborhood, to showcase the cultures, to promote the local businesses, and also to bring the community together to celebrate. “Not that we need an excuse to celebrate, but it’s nice for all the community to get together to celebrate our heritage and our culture,” said Blakeney. “If you haven’t been to any of the restaurants, you can try five of them for $10, and you know those five, and you can go back to them. Hopefully, this will build habits.”
On July 12, Northwest Asian Weekly is hosting a family Recycling Fashion Contest from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. All are invited to come to the newspaper office at 412 Maynard Ave. South to get recycling materials to dress the kids up. Kids who want help making a costume are welcome to come to the Asian Weekly office anytime after 11:30 a.m. (end)
Jamie Sun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.