BRATTLEBORO -- Adam Silver understands this state lacks a high population of Americans of Asian descent, but says its atmosphere is nevertheless rife with people fascinated with the culture of the world's largest continent.
Silver, the executive director of the Asian Cultural Center of Vermont (ACCVT), said the annual Brattleboro Area Lunar New Year Festival of China, Vietnam and Korea always has a large turnout of locals interested in learning a little more about Asian traditions and expects this year's installment to be no different. Now in its 11th year, the Lunar New Year Festival is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden on Sunday. It is free to the public, though donations are appreciated, as they will help recoup the expense of site rental.
"(The Brattleboro event) is a celebration of the Lunar New Year as it happens in China, Korea and Vietnam," Silver told the Reformer. "It's aimed at connecting people through the arts and culture of Asia."
Silver said the dawning of the Lunar New Year, like the one celebrated in the American tradition, is an opportunity for people to "renew and revisit" and think about the goals they want to achieve in the near future.
"It's a chance to change," he said.
Ushering in the Year of the Horse, this year's celebration will begin with a potluck feast and guests are encouraged to bring dishes or refreshments to share.
Silver said each celebration, which is meant to broaden people's horizons, includes the parading of a traditional Asian dragon around a section of Main Street. He said the dragon, which resembles a giant marionette, was commissioned in Vietnam and brought to the United States by Professor Seth Harter, the director of Asian studies at Marlboro College. Silver said the dragon is about 30 feet long and takes 10 to 12 people to hoist it up with poles that are attached to certain sections of the dragon's body. He said someone traditionally holds a "mystical pearl" in front of the dragon because, according to Asian folklore, the dragon eternally chases the pearl, only for it to constantly elude its grasp.
There will also be a craft and coloring table for younger children, t'ai chi demonstrations, a group calligraphy mural, a Korean tug-of-war and Lunar New Year songs.
The festival predates the ACCVT, which was founded in 2006.
Silver said cloudy days have in the past brought out 80 to 90 people, while sunny days have been known to garner up to 200.
For more information, contact Silver at 802-257-7898, ext. 1, or find ACCVT on Facebook.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.