Ring in Year of the Horse with Tahitian flair

craig.sailor@thenewstribune.comFebruary 14, 2014 

Asian New Year Celebration

When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma

Admission: Free

Information: 253-383-3900, asiapacific culturalcenter.org Saddle up. Local Asian and Pacific Islander communities are ushering in the Year of the Horse with a free festival Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

The annual Asian New Year Celebration is sponsored by Tacoma’s Asia Pacific Cultural Center. Each year a different culture is highlighted, with the focus on Tahiti this time around.

The horse theme will be on display with pony rides outside the Dome. Inside, festivalgoers will find Tahitian canoes and traditional Hawaiian song and hula dancing.

Even though the Asian New Year is not part of the Tahitian cultural tradition, it’s still celebrated there, largely because of its sizeable Chinese immigrant population, said Malia Radford, a member of Te Fare O Tamatoa, a nonprofit that promotes Tahitian culture through dance and drumming. The organization was founded by her mother-in-law Manio Radford. Malia’s husband, Manu, teaches drumming with the group.

“Tahiti is pretty laid back,” Malia Radford said. “It’s colorful, happy, welcoming and loving.”

Saturday’s event will aim to mirror those qualities, she said.

The Tahitian population is small in Washington, Radford said. Most Tahitian immigrants have settled in California, Nevada and Hawaii. “It’s nice that we are getting ourselves out there because we’d like to connect the dots with more Tahitian people.”

The national Tahitian tourism office, based in San Diego, will have representatives at the event.

After the Tahitian welcome and hour-long performance, the stage will have nonstop entertainment all day.

More than 15 Asian and Pacific Island groups will present traditional and contemporary dance and musical performances. There will be a separate demonstration room for martial arts and cultural dances. Children will be entertained with cultural games, arts, crafts and Polynesian face painting.

The exhibition hall will be filled with retail booths. Food booths will serve traditional Asian and Pacific Island cuisine.

The keynote speaker for the festival is Brig. Gen. John Cho, commander of the Army Western Regional Medical Command.

Before some personnel are stationed at Asian posts, “they come to APCC to learn the basics of the language and the culture,” Lua Pritchard, the center’s director, said.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 craig.sailor@thenewstribune.com

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