Asian Festival 2019: New Location is a Hit

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

It’s hard to imagine that a very few years ago, the Asian Festival was held in Krutch Park Extension. And it had plenty of space. The festival has exploded in popularity, growing with each subsequent year. First taking all of Krutch Park, then adding Market Square, it eventually outgrew the larger footprint of surrounding streets. This year marked the first for the festival to be held on the World’s Fair Park.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Any doubts that it was ready for the larger stage were erased immediately. Officially starting at 11:00 am, the parade opening the festival got underway at 10:45 and the crowds were already building. By noon, it was clear that the 40,000 estimated attendance from last year would almost certainly be eclipsed. Very few events dare to take both the south and north lawns, as well as the amphitheater. It’s expensive and the risk of dispersed crowds seeming small is significant. This festival took it all and filled it up.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

The parade is a great way to start the festival, as it introduces the countries involved and serves as an overview of what to expect. The colorful costumes, beautiful children and beaming adults displays the pride each contingent takes in their heritage. For many of us, it is a reminder that “Asian” covers many cultures and peoples.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Urban Girl was my primary partner for the event. She’s a big fan of Asian and, particularly, Japanese culture. We had fun looking through the booths, as she served as my cultural guide through a pop cultural world of which I know very little. Lazy eggs, anyone? Apparently, it is a cultural icon. I skillfully avoided making a $40 purchase on that one.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

We picked up some of her favorite Japanese snacks. We had to stop into a couple of Henna spots and collected a leg tattoo and a hand tattoo. We made our way past the tea ceremony to the south lawn where the food vendors were spread out in a wonderful array. Wonderful both because of the food offered and the fact that there were enough of them and they were well-spaced enough that the nightmare of securing food in previous years, gave way to short waits and great selections.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

This was my first event on the newly refurbished south lawn. Much of the focus on improvements for the lawn involved drainage, which has always been a problem. There was no issue with drainage on this day, but the new pavers circling the lawn were great for navigating food vendors and crowd damage to the lawn had to be minimal because of the hard surfaces. Food vendors also had access to electricity without generators, making the experience much more pleasant for everyone.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

This year’s weather was a great gift given the potential for unrelenting heat in Knoxville this time of year. The new location also provided relief should there be rain or oppressive heat. The largest stage was inside the amphitheater with its recently upgraded seating. To be able to sit to eat (there were also chairs and tables in a covered tent on the south lawn) makes a huge difference. To do so in a covered space is priceless.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

We watched the entertainment in the amphitheater while enjoying our food, a comfortable chair and shelter. We could not have been happier. The entertainment suffered in past years from a small viewing area with very few seats and total exposure to the heat. It was one of several aspects of the new location that made for a much more pleasant experience.

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2019

As a downtown resident, I have to add another note: It felt nice to have the festival to attend and still be able to move about my neighborhood. Festivals are wonderful, but for downtown residents, they do impact our ability to come and go from our homes and this little bit of distance feels just a bit better. Perhaps this is the future. Indiafest will be held on the World’s Fair Park September 21st.

Comments

  1. Thank you for everything. From a DC native this was even better than the Japanese festival during the National Cherry Blossom festival. Very impressed. Loved all the countries represented and all the culture there.
    Elaine Lewis

  2. It was amazing! Thank you to everyone who helped make this festival fun and educational! My family really enjoyed themselves! ♡Heather Gee

  3. My family loved the festival! My son was a performer, we had 10 of our family members there. We all enjoyed the festival very much. Things to do for all ages and delicious food!!❤️ Kim Axley

  4. Loved it! Perfect weather this year. Fabulous community event. I loved the booths with recordings of different languages/sounds- made it feel like you were actually walking the streets in that country.
    Eunice Norris

  5. The food layout was so much better this year. Yes, it’s a bit daunting when you see just how long the lines appear (we were there at 1:30), but the vendors seemed to have it down and the lines we were in moved quickly. Grabbed a couple beers immediately upon arrival and hopped in a line to sample a few things. Ate those while standing in another line for a different food both. Then repeated and repeated. Only took an hour to make it through 4 food lines (plus another for beer), and all of us left stuffed and extremely satisfied. Agree that the booths that had menu items posted at the top of the tent were easiest to see over the lines, and would suggest that booths consider adopting that for future years. We just walked up to the front to scout before committing to each line, which worked well enough, though. Kudos to the team behind the festival for continuing to improve it year-after-year, it’s obvious they’re paying attention to what’s working and what needs tweaking. Looking forward to what they come up with for next year.

  6. Ruth Burchfield says

    Great venue. Enjoyed spaciousness and able to walk freely. We arrived around 12:30, watched a few performers on smaller stage. Strolled through vendors (needed Urban Lady) and so many not sure where really to begin. Ready for bite to eat and our experience was same as another that posted. The lines were soooooo long that we also could not see what each offered. We chose also to eat at a different location.
    Overall location so much better!

  7. Downtown Worker says

    This is the 2nd article on Asian Fest, which is a great event. But, where’s the love for GermanFest which was also this weekend?

  8. I went to the Festival around 2pm and the food lines for every vendor were so long you couldn’t navigate through the lawn and/or get close enough to even see what each vendor was serving. After walking through the other side we eventually went downtown to eat.

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