A cultural event organized by the Little Master’s Club joining the Washington Chinese Art and Culture Committee took place at the Seattle armory on Saturday, March 20th. An amazing variety of booths, ranging from tea to paper-making, were set up around the entire building for everyone to enjoy. Some small businesses set up shop too, like the Best Tea shop or the small stand selling qi pao and tapestries. On a large stage, many groups including a Chinese dance academy, a Shaolin martial arts academy, and a small orchestra performed.
The festival brought together many people of all ages and ethnicities. Children were exposed to their own heritage in an intriguing way, via many activities and stations featuring different traditional Chinese arts such as tea-making and serving, papermaking, calligraphy, or ink painting.
It was quiet at first; a line of models wearing qi pao and carrying parasols paraded around the area, and a few dancers performed. Mostly, volunteers scurried around carrying boxes and scrolls to set up in the stations. The first people began trickling in just as things had about finished getting set up.
By afternoon, almost all the seats in front of the stage had been occupied, and the entire building was packed. I spoke to several people, and all of them felt that the festival had been an intriguing or delightful experience. Some thought that the arts-and-crafts booths were the most enjoyable; others thought that the greatest part of the event was its diversity, and the range of Chinese culture it exposed people to; still others were pleased by the magnificent performances. One such person I talked to was the ex-mayor of Bellevue, Conrad Lee.
Lee was warm and sincere in his praise of the festival. He said that it allowed different cultures to be exposed to one another, and it gave an opportunity for young people to be able to help the community, while simultaneously learning about their own heritage. Community service performed by kids, he said, should not be something you do to get credits, but rather you should want to do it, and want to help others. He was kind and helpful, answering all my questions avidly and attentively.
Sometimes there was a slight shortage of staff: some people volunteering for one station ended up being employed at another that needed more people. A few minor problems came up here and there, but they were all handled with extreme efficiency and resourcefulness. For all these, the event ran smoothly, without a single noticeable glitch. With vibrant costumes, elaborate performances, hands-on activities, and tea, the entire festival brought out the richness and joy of Chinese culture to many, many people, including the next generation.