PINELLAS PARK — After a year's hiatus, the Asian Pacific Rim Festival will showcase more than 10 cultures Saturday and Sunday.
Authentic minivillages will spread across the England Brothers Bandshell Park, packed with displays, arts and fashion of the Chinese, Fijian, Filipino, Indian, Laotian, Polynesian, Thai, Taiwanese, Tongan, Vietnamese and Hmong people.
The St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society sponsors the event, which is coordinated by member volunteers. This year's theme, Year of the Tiger, is a nod to the Chinese zodiac calendar. It is heralded as a sign of bravery.
People will be dressed in cultural splendor when welcoming visitors. Fresh foods loaded with traditional flavors and aromas will be sold. Hmong chicken on a stick, curries from India and empanadas from the Philippines are among the foods on the menu.
Rosaline Sugrive, SPIFFS executive director, hinted at the good-natured rivalry between the Chinese and Vietnamese villages for the tastiest egg rolls. "It's all in good fun," said Sugrive.
She added that the Thai members' extravagant fruit carvings entice visitors' eyes and palates. The popular Asian Beer Garden with free music will help visitors relax and reflect on the cultures passed through the generations.
The event includes free, continuous entertainment, fashion shows and a variety of martial arts demonstrations. Performances include classical entertainment with traditional instruments. Filipino and Indian performers share contemporary music, too.
The Chinese ceremonial dragon dance is a time-honored highlight at the festival, which generally attracts about 7,000 people over the two days.
"This festival is one significant way we promote, preserve and educate about these cultures and their traditions," Sugrive said. Helping to highlight their community contributions is also important, she said.
Proceeds will make sure future programs continue, including the International Folk Fair.