Featured photo: A crowd gathers at the ASEANA Spring Festival in 2011.
Each spring since 2007, Shreveport’s ASEANA Foundation has hosted the ASEANA Spring Festival at the Asian Gardens of Shreveport. Each installment of the festival celebrates a different Asian culture by spotlighting its traditional music, dance, food and culture. The event is free, open to the public and altogether one of the most charming small festivals that I’ve experienced anywhere in Louisiana. Because I’m a huge fan of the event, I typically start bugging festival coordinator Mary Grace de Joya-Vea for festival details some time in January. The ninth annual ASEANA Spring Festival will be held, 4-9 p.m., Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the Asian Gardens of Shreveport (the Asian Gardens are located at the intersection of Milam Street and Texas Avenue). Here’s everything that you could possibly want to know about this awesome event:
The Theme: “Sa Bai Dee” Laotian Festival
The ninth annual ASEANA Spring Festival will have the theme “Sa Bai Dee.” In the Lao language, “Sa Bai Dee” can mean “hello,” “goodbye,” and “all is well.”
One of the most unique aspects of the ASEANA Spring Festival is the availability of authentic Asian cuisine from food vendors. Each year, the food varies to reflect the Asian culture being celebrated. This year’s Laotian festival will include:
- Thum Mak Hung (Papaya Salad)
- Nam Khao (Lao Crunchy Rice)
- Seen Hang (Beef Jerky)
- Nam Mueng Luang (Salad Wrap w/Rice Paste)
- Lok Chin (Meatballs)
- Sai Oua (Lao Sausages)
- Ping Kai (Lao Style Chicken)
- Khao Niav (Sticky Rice)
- Jaew (Spicy Dipping Sauce)
- Som Moo (Pickled Pork)
It’s a good idea to bring cash for the food vendors and to arrive early if you’ve got your heart set on eating some of the Laotian food, as vendors typically do sell out during the event.
The “Sa Bai Dee” Performance Showcase: Dance, Music and Fashion of Laos
Beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a performing arts showcase featuring the dance, music and fashion of Laos. An e-mail that I received from an organizer stated that “every song that we will dance to has some kind of meaning or it will represent a certain area in the country of Laos.” One song and dance number, listed as “Fon Sao Lao Muan Sie,” is said to describe “how Laotian ladies love to dance and have a good time.”
The program that begins at 6 p.m. will also include a Lao fashion show featuring traditional and modern day attire from different regions of Laos.
The Lao Community of Acadiana
The huge cultural showcase beginning at 6 p.m. will be performed by members of the Laotian community of Acadiana. In 1986, a Laotian community called Lanxang Village was established in Iberia Parish in the Coteau area. Today, this community has grown to include approximately 400 Laotian families in Iberia Parish alone. The performers featured in the 6 p.m. showcase will all be members of the Lanxang Village community.