The Wichita Asian Festival is coming up this weekend, and I’m excited about it. I have attended nearly every year since it started 32 years ago. What began as a small celebration with a smattering of food vendors and a beauty pageant has grown into a huge multicultural event. There’s still a pageant, but now the entertainment ranges from East Indian dance troupes to martial arts demonstrations. It’s a blast, but the best part for me has always been the food.
There are more than forty food vendors, and you have the opportunity to sample some of the more unusual regional cuisines of Asia. I’m talking not on-the-menu-Grandma’s-recipe kinds of things. Last year, I tried a Korean bean sprout and kimchee pancake, a chewy Japanese rice snack called mochi, and a blindingly spicy Southern Indian bean stew. They had Filipino lumpia, crackly and fried, and delicious Vietnamese spring rolls, and a number of vendors cooking up dumplings filled with pork, shrimp, and vegetables. You will not go away hungry. There are lots of vegetarian options, and all the cooks are helpful if you have any questions. The pride they feel about sharing their special dishes is evident.
The Asian Festival is this Saturday, October 20, from 5:30 until 10:00 pm, at Century II’s Convention Hall. The event is free, but the food is not, so bring cash. It is family friendly and lots of fun. You might want to skip lunch.