We continue our journey through this summer’s festivals around Seattle. When my sister was in town a couple of weeks ago we headed to DragonFest 2012 in the International District. With my niece Lilou, Dek and Ty along for the ride I picked up a few tips that could help us not only at future festivals but also in our travels around the world. After all, there is no better place to practice for your next adventure then in your own backyard.
Try the food.
Unfamiliar foods abound at international festivals. Pick at least one thing you have never had. Make it fun so the whole family will want to try it. Kids love Italian pasta dishes? Try some soba noodles. All about your Taco Tuesdays at home? Grab a Peking duck taco on a steamed rice bun. The squishy texture is guaranteed to elicit a few giggles.
Dance a little.
Performances were scheduled throughout the weekend at Dragon Fest. We happened upon an Indian dance demonstration. My sister grabbed my niece and they joined the crowd. Lilou wowed the audience with her tiny hip shakes and hand waving, even if she was a little out of sync with the rest of the revelers.
Say hi to a few characters.
You just never know who will show up at these things. Anime enthusiasts of all ages milled about as they waited for the costume contest to begin. We recognized a few of our favorite characters from beloved series. Dek was just excited to see so many swords. And no, we did not give into the pleas to buy him one. You may call me a bad parent now.
Pick up a new language.
At every turn you can hear other languages being spoken in the International District. Of course this would spill over into Dragon Fest. Older members of the community sat around chatting. Menus highlighted dishes we had never heard of in a language we didn’t know. It was easy to ask a fellow festival attendee or vendor for a few pronunciation tips if we need them.
Grab some trinkets.
After eating, street festivals mean shopping in my book. Vendors come out of the woodwork selling everything from panda hats and sushi key chains, to bonsai trees and bracelets. Some stalls had merchandise that was so reminiscent of our time in China that I had to remind myself what country we were in.
Don’t forget the sweets!
No matter what city or event we are at you will never hear me turn down a sugar-filled treat. It is my favorite way to explore a new town.
You don’t have to travel far to experience a slice of a far off land. Of course our favorite way to learn about a new place is still to get on a plane and full immerse ourselves, but we can’t always do that, much to my chagrin. When I can’t go there myself, the next best thing is to join in the celebration of the other cultures in communities in our own city.
Mike’s final words of wisdom to making sure you have a rockin’ good time at an international festival: always promise a dragon. That’s how we got Dek in the car that morning.
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written by Keryn Means