Asian American cultural festival returns to Central Florida

Celebration kicks off at Ocoee Lakeshore Center on May 22

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ORLANDO, Fla. – The Asian American Heritage Council of Central Florida is back with its Asian Cultural Festival for the first time since the pandemic.

The free festival, which includes diverse music, dance, food and more, will be held Sunday at the Ocoee Lakeshore Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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“Although we have done festival before many, many years... this is the first time we have done after two years’ hiatus. So we also starting to learn again some new stuff,” said Roy Laurens, the festival’s chair.

One of the biggest changes was moving the festival from Fashion Square Mall to Ocoee Lakeshore Center, a space that lets them put on both indoor and outdoor events, according to Pauline Ho, the festival’s auditor and sponsorship chair.

She said everything from food to entertainment is on display at the festival, featuring a wide range of different cultures and countries, much like the board itself.

“We represent a subset of the Asian culture, where we come from, where we individually come from or where our group (comes) from. But when we work together, we are able to do greater things than what we can do on our own,” said Laurens, who acts as a voice for Indonesians in Florida.

Taiwan, China, India, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, among other nations, will all be highlighted during the event. Guests can enjoy everything from Japanese Taiko drumming performances to Taiwanese kung fu demonstrations.

The council’s message of “Together we accomplish more” is also woven into how chairs like Laurens are selected to lead the council.

“That is why each two years a term we rotate the president and we will ask each country to take time to be the president (of the council). So, each one of us will take the leadership,” Ho said. “We will try our best. And if we fall, we fall together. If we succeed, we succeed together.”

Ho added that each year, when she sees performers and people from different Asian cultures, she gains a new appreciation for them.

“Even for Asian heritage, I may not be exposed that much if I were not in the festival. This is an educational process for myself too,” Ho said. “And I’m sure there will be (an) educational process for a lot of (people that) want to go to the festival, (too).”

Additionally, the festival fuels the future education of students, acting as a fundraising event for the Asian American Heritage Council Student Achiever Scholastic Award, scholarships that are handed out to students who are active in academics and the Asian American community in November.

Council officials are also planning to score goals for Central Florida’s AAPI population with the help of Orlando soccer fans.

On May 28, the council will be hosting an Asian American Heritage Night at Exploria Stadium during the 7:30 p.m. Orlando City SC vs. FC Dallas match.

Orlando City will join in on the celebration by featuring food trucks in the fan zone, video board recognition, special photo opportunities and more.

Ticket prices range from $23 to $33, depending on what package you select. Those interested can gain access to both events as part of a ticketing bundle deal.

For more information on the two events and to purchase tickets, click here.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.