Asian Heritage Street Fair

On Saturday, May 16, 2009, after the Buddha Birthday Celebration/Festival, I walked west to the Tenderloin to attend my second festival of the day, the Asian Heritage Street Celebration. As I neared, I noticed I was in the Vietnamese center of SF ("little Saigon"). There were banh mi joints galore, but sadly I had no stomach space left.

I picked up a surprisingly comprehensive newspaper about the festival, showcasing endorsements of the festival from politicians, promoting sponsors, and describing many details about the festival and its workings. I learned and like the idea that the festival changes location every year to a different Asia neighborhood in San Francisco, thus showing the breadth of SF and its Asian communities.

The fair was sizable, covering seven blocks and taking ninety minutes to explore. Most booths were the usual street fair vendors, e.g., low-end jewelry, handbags, t-shirts, sunglasses. The few distinctive products for sale included imported dvds, shirts, and posters, related to either Japanese rock music or anime. Also, foreign newspapers.

There were also lots of organizations doing outreach to this community, including tons of government agencies, some of which I'm surprised bother to do outreach at all (rather than expect people to come to them): muni (the bus company) and the Social Security Administration. There was even a booth to educate people about lemon laws. In addition, private utilities had booths (telephone, electricity, education, zipcars). Community groups, as well as health and education non-profits, were also represented.

Of the multiple entertainment stages, I caught an urban dance troop, a Filipino folk dance, a dance contest, and a martial arts bout (there was a ring devoted to it). There was also a kids zone.

I took four pictures as I explored the festival.

Regarding food, there was a wide assortment, including tons of grilled meats--the opposite of the last festival. Meats were being grilled at one Korean bbq booth, two Filipino booths, one Hawaiian bbq booth, one Cajun bbq booth, one Thai bbq booth, and one Vietnamese bbq. (No, I couldn't tell all these apart without the help of the booths' signs.) Another stand grilled corn. The non-grill selection included Thai, Lao (no, I don't know the difference), Indian, Vietnamese, crepes, slushies, and kettle corn (of course). Notably more aligned with the Buddhist festival was the Golden Era booth (vegetarian Chinese) and a Vietnamese Buddhist booth.

Despite the selection, I was glad I ate at the other festival. On a warm day like this one, I didn't feel love for something hot off a grill. Also, despite my thirst in the summer weather, I resisted the jamba juice, milk tea, and countless homemade lemonade and bottled water stands, instead looking forward to making myself a blended ice drink at home, and, perhaps later, a smoothie.

I did both.

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