Casting aside their worries about the weekend weather, more than 5,000 people flocked to the new, larger site of the Central Texas Asian Pacific Festival on Saturday to share in a unique part of Killeen’s culture and traditions.
Asian, United States and Texas items decorated the area outside of the Killeen Community Center, where Baila Pacifica held its third-annual celebration featuring food, such as bulgogi and musubi, and live performances on two stages from Pacific island dance groups and Asian performing artists. The event also featured a bazaar with a variety of local and out-of-state vendors.
Elisha Tiliaia, coordinator for the Central Texas Asian Pacific Festival, said the event had to move from its previous location in Harker Heights to the larger location at the Killeen Community Center to make way for the larger crowd.
“The whole goal of the festival itself is to promote the Asian and Pacific Island culture and heritage with the community,” said emcee for the event, Kieshana Miles. “We want to give them a sense of their own identity and culture and we also just really want to educate those who are unfamiliar with our community on who we are, what we do. What better way to do it than with food and music?”
Throughout the course of the festival, over 22 Asian and Pacific island groups traveling from as far as San Antonio performed traditional and modern dances in between performances and announcements from local martial arts groups, along with and other widely known artists in Killeen.
“Our community here is really big for Asian and Pacific people in Fort Hood and the surrounding area,” Miles said. “But some of our younger generation haven’t had to opportunity to go to the islands or their parents’ home countries.
“Because of that you kind of lose a sense of your culture. So, I just wanted them to be proud of where they came from and meet other people like them as well.”
The bazaar featured several vendors including Shoulin Wushu Kung Fu, William Asalele and Pacific Island Accessories.
The local military spouses operated a booth for their group, the Fort Hood Spouses Club.
The event ended with fire dancing performance while crowd goers shouting a forceful ‘CHEEHOO’ into the evening sky. Miles said she is looking forward to the future of the Centex Asian Pacific Festival and has bigger plans for the event next year.
“I remember standing on stage last year, seeing that because of all of our hard work that people could celebrate,” she said. “It’s a big thing to say we could celebrate our culture and our heritage and there are so many people who want to learn more and just don’t know.”