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Asian American Neighborhood Festival Celebrates Santa Barbara Roots

8th annual showcase highlights history dating back to the 1800s while sharing community connections, traditions and culture


Santa Barbara’s Asian American heritage has deep roots in the heart of downtown so it’s fitting that the annual Asian American Neighborhood Festival is held at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park.

The eighth annual festival, presented by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, shares the rich culture and customs with the public, while highlighting the history of the Asian communities that once flourished in the Santa Barbara Presidio neighborhood, SBTHP committee chairwoman Terease Chin said.

“We are preserving the history of this neighborhood where the Chinese and Japanese lived in the late 1800s,” she said. “We are bridging the past to the present, and bringing the culture alive with these connections to the community.

“It’s promoting cultural awareness and history.”

More than 1,000 people attended the festival Sunday, Chin said.

The four-hour gathering was a showcase for cultural dances and musical performances, including the traditional lion dance performed by the Camarillo Kung Fu and Lion Dance Association, Japanese folk dancing, Tai Chi, Chinese martial arts and Taiko Japanese drumming.

UC Santa Barbara student groups also performed K-pop (otherwise known as Korean pop) and break-dancing.

“It shows the diversity of our community,” Chin said. “This is an amazing opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the different cultures in Santa Barbara.”

Vendor booths offered Chinese art, calligraphy and Asian jewelry.

Long lines were formed at the red-and-white Okamoto Kitchen food truck. The Sherman Oaks-area mobile business traveled to Santa Barbara and served up pork chashu sandwichs, bite-sized fried chicken, curry and other Japanese dishes.

The George H. Griffiths and Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation sponsored the event.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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