Asian Festival Returns for Tenth Anniversary

Asian Festival, World's Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2022
Asian Festival, World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, August 2022

From humble beginnings in Krutch Park Extension ten years ago, the Knoxville Asian Festival has emerged as one of the largest Asian Festivals in the country. The festival will be held this year on August 26 from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, sprawling over both the south and north lawns. Much of what the city has come to love about the festival will return, along with some great additions, and several improvements.

The kick-off to the day begins just before the festival opens, with a parade featuring delegations from all the participating countries. Beginning at 10:30 am, the parade will wend from the World’s Fair Park fountains to the amphitheater, which will then host performances throughout the day.

The addition to the event which is drawing the most buzz is the live sumo wrestling demonstrations featuring professional wrestlers, sponsored for the day by the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, TVA and Knox County. They will perform twice, at 2pm and 5pm, with opportunities for photographs following each performance.

US Sumo Open on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 in Long Beach, Calif. (Courtesy, Asian Festival)
Sumo Wrestlers (Courtesy of the Asian Festival)
Byamba (Photo Courtesy of the Asian Festival)

Beyond watching, volunteers will be taken from the audience to try their hand at the sport. That’s right, you can volunteer to fight on the stage. After the show, you can take photos with Sumo wrestlers. This may be the first time professional Sumo wrestlers have fought in the area. The wrestlers are among the best in the world, including Mendsaikham Tsogt-Erdene (5’10” 320 lbs., Mongolia Heavyweight Gold, Openweight Gold), Byamba (6’1″, 370 lbs., 4-time World Sumo Champion), and Hiroki (6’4″, 575 lbs., 12 years Pro Sumo, 2 Pro Division Champion titles). Hiroki, the heaviest Japanese sumo wrestler in the world, is currently featured in the movie “John Wick 4” (with Keanu Reeves).He also has a principal role in the globally-acclaimed Japanese Netflix series (#1 Netflix show in Japan for many weeks!), “Sanctuary.”

Additionally, JEI Angklung (Jawara Entertainment Indonesia) flies into Knoxville to begin their US tour at the Knoxville Asian Festival. Established in 2013, the group connects “traditional musical instruments made of bamboo, especially the angklung, with other traditional instruments, along with drums, electric guitar, bass, and other modern musical instruments.” They will also perform dances “originating from the land of Sunda and the archipelago.”

With something for everyone, from K-pop to a Cosplay contest (Festival lawn Stage from 5:30-6:30pm), there are more reasons and ways than ever to enjoy the annual event. I’m excited to see the Indonesian Gamelan (check out the video in this article) and I’m interested in the Orangutan Rescue Organization (also see video) and what they will present. Other performances return, including traditional dances, instrumental music, martial arts demonstrations, and the always popular Matsuriza taiko drummers from Disney World. Performances will also be featured on smaller stages throughout both lawns. A full performance schedule is included here.

The Thai cultural tent (on the performance lawn) will also be the site of new programming sure to pique the interest of a range of festival goers on a hot day. The celebration of Songkran (Thai New Year), which typically occurs in April, will break out at their site featuring something sure to please a lot of hot festival goers: A water fight. Audience participation is encouraged as is prior registration through the Asian Festival Website. Pre-registration to reserve a spot for other activities like the tea ceremony, kendo, and more is also encouraged and may be found here.

There will be over forty food vendors (list found here) spread throughout both lawns to hopefully ease crowding from previous years. Some may take only cash, so come prepared or seek out one of the ATMs you’ll find scattered about the site. In addition to food vendors, there will be a market element to the festival, offering culturally related items for sale. The passport program which encourages children to connect the massive content provided, will also be continued.

In response to past concerns, efforts to keep everyone cool have been expanded. Cooling stations will be found throughout the park, and you’ll also find sit-down dining tents (with fans). Misting stations and ice neck packs will also be available. Commemorative water bottles will be sold which “can be filled for free with unlimited filtered water at the KUB tent.”

It promises to be better than ever, so mark your calendars for Saturday, August 26, and I’ll see you there.