Asian American Center concludes festival series with Autumn Moon Harvest

·3 min read

Sep. 5—As the Asian American Center of Frederick on Saturday hosted its annual Autumn Moon Harvest festival — concluding its five-part Carroll Creek Culture Series — Executive Director Elizabeth Chung said her goal was to make a statement.

The Autumn Moon Harvest featured performances of songs, dances, yo-yo, martial arts and poetry. The festival's performers spanned three generations and included several groups of older people, the eldest being 86 years old, Chung said in an interview.

The performers also represented a host of different Asian countries, among them China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Vietnam and Mongolia.

Chung said she hoped attendees appreciated the diversity and the inclusive nature of people sharing a host of different cultures as part of the same festival.

Chung said she would like to see the same level of acceptance from mainstream American culture. That was at least part of the reason her organization hosted the events at the Carroll Creek amphitheater rather than at the Asian American Center of Frederick's East All Saints Street location.

"If I don't bring this to Frederick, who's going to bring it to Frederick?" Chung said.

Earlier events in the Carroll Creek Culture Series, which began in May, included a celebration of Asian heritage, a Thai Water Festival, an Around the World Tour and Festival Indonesia.

The five festivals were free to the public. Chung estimated that each one — which her organization launched in conjunction with the Downtown Frederick Partnership's First Saturday celebrations — featured around 20 performances and each cost around $20,000 to put on.

The Asian American Center of Frederick did not seek grant funding, so Chung said she had to pay for the events entirely through the organization's budget and rely on volunteers.

Chung said her organization was too busy providing social services to those in need to put in the work necessary to obtain grants this year, but she plans to reach out to Frederick city and county governments next year for help with funding the five festivals.

The Asian American Center of Frederick, which was founded in 2005, assists low-income, minority and immigrant communities access health insurance, interpreter and translation services, ESL and citizenship classes, mentoring, housing, education, employment and business development services, according to the organization's website.

In addition to the performances, the Autumn Moon Harvest featured a variety of food, including from Albany-based Indonesian cuisine restaurant Yono's.

Widjiono (Yono) Purnomo, the restaurant's certified executive chef and a native of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital city, drove snearly 400 miles south from Albany to Frederick for the festival.

Saturday was Purnomo's second time attending the Autumn Moon Harvest. He said that people's appreciation for sharing cultures has been the best thing he's experienced at the festival.

Sitting along the stone-ledge seats of the amphitheater on Saturday, Amanda Pullin said her father, an Indonesia native, was dancing around the amphitheater stage when she went with him to Festival Indonesia in August.

So when it came time for the Autumn Moon Harvest, she decided to attend with Leticia Gutierrez, figuring her longtime friend would be less likely to embarrass her.

Pullin, a Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, resident, said she relished the festival's dancing, music and food. She said would like to see the Asian American Center of Frederick host the festivals again next year.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan