Asian-Pacific Festival returns to Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The fifth annual Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival attracted hundreds of people to Calder Plaza on Saturday.

The unique performances and food options were a big hit with visitors. 

“It’s amazing seeing the people coming and support us,” said Phong Nguyen of Mama Hang’s, a Vietnamese food vendor. “We are really excited to share our customs and food with people.”

The staff at Mama Hang’s drew many customers with their traditional sandwiches, salads and various skewer options. 

“Mama’s banh mi and Mama’s pork skewer is really popular,” Nguyen said. 

Their goal is to open a restaurant in the future. 

Over at the Filipino food vendor Adobo Boy, their halo-halo — a popular dessert — was the main attraction.

“Halo-Halo means mix-mix,” said Chris Cater, who was helping his aunt, Jackie Marasigan, serve food. “A lot of different ingredients. Jackfruit, red bean, some coconut jelly and mix it together with shaved ice, vanilla ice cream, extra toppings on top.”

Various performers entertained the crowd, including The Lotus Boys, who showcased their lion dance. 

“Us showing our culture to different aspects of the world,” said John Phan of The Lotus Boys. “This is who we are and what we believe. This is an ancient dance that goes on for thousands of years, for good fortune, good luck and prosperity.”

This year’s event featured performers from West Michigan and other parts of the U.S.

Artists from Houston and California made their way to Grand Rapids for the festival.

Miyuki Matsunaga is a geta dance art performance artist from the greater Los Angeles area. She describes her style as modernized version of traditional Japanese performance art. 

“Totally different, far away from traditional,” says Matsunaga. “I do contemporary. But I use traditional tools.”

In her performance, Matsunaga paints symbols expressing important elements in Japanese culture, such as earth, wind and fire.

“I put the calligraphy for those words and dance with those images,” Matsunaga said. “Then I like the audience to feel Japanese way of natures, art or beauty.”

Organizers of the festival hope the event can attract more performers from outside West Michigan in the future. 

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