Festival season kicks off with Asian Festival

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The Asian Festival's yearly celebration and showcase of 15 Asian cultures always offers a lot to see and do. There are loads of dishes to sample from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnam and Indian vendors, as well as cultural exhibits, sports and a marketplace for shopping.

Both Saturday and Sunday will feature martial-arts demonstrations, traditional music and dance performances and cultural/art exhibits across the fields of Franklin Park. The marketplace offers jewelry, art, crafts, toys and spices for sale.

The pingpong and sepak takraw - a sport similar to volleyball, except feet are used instead of hands - games offer some more fast-paced action. Cultural performances include both traditional and contemporary styles; this year spotlights Japan and the Philippines.

One of the highlights of the festival, the dragon boat races, takes place off-site at Genoa Park, 303 W. Broad St. The racing competition consists of long canoes - decorated with dragon heads and tails - rowing to the beat of the boats' drummers. The race will consist of three rounds, beginning at 8 a.m. and culminating with a championship race at 3 p.m. Awards ceremonies will follow the final race.

When: Saturday-Sunday, May 28-29

Where: Franklin Park Conservatory

Cost: Free

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

Parking: Free parking and shuttles to and from nearby lots

Website: asian-festival.org