by Cindy Gonzalez, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The annual Dragon Festival is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to Phalen Park in St. Paul this weekend.
The event, based on ancient Chinese festivals, will celebrate the many Asian cultures found in Minnesota with dragon boat races and arts and crafts.
But the event is much more than just a boat race, said Illean Her, chairwoman of the Dragon Festival committee.
"We have a cultural performance stage. And on the stage will be many different cultures, Chinese dance, Japanese dance, Hmong dance, Lao," Her said. "And then we have a reading together tent, where we will read from culturally sensitive and specific books. And then the food -- we try to make sure that our vendors are not from one specific country, that we have a diverse group of vendors."
Organizers need to raise $80,000 to put the annual event together, said Sandy Kwan, co-chairwoman of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesota.
"It's great that we have sponsors that continually invest in the dragon festival, and they want to build relationships with the community as well," Kwan said.
One sponsor is Shaw-Lundquist Associates, a St. Paul construction company. Holden Hsiao, vice president of the company, said that helping the festival is a family tradition.
Hsiao's father, the founder of the company, was born in China.
"It's something that my father and mother instilled in us," Hsiao said. "My father started this business and we are supportive of Asian cultural events, this being one of them."
The free festival runs from 10 a.m. Saturday until 5 p.m. Sunday.