The 12th Annual Passport To Taiwan Festival

Photo credit: Peter Zhao

By Raymond Mei

For the past 12 years, since its start in 2002, Taiwanese American communities in the Metropolitan New York City area have gathered at Union Square Park to celebrate the annual “Taiwanese American Heritage Week”. The United States Congress implemented this special week of Taiwanese American heritage recognition in 1999 as part of “Asia Pacific American Heritage Month” for the month of May. This celebration provides a great opportunity for fellow citizens of all backgrounds to learn and participate in the vibrant Taiwanese culture.

Oliver Hsu, President of TAA-NY, accepting the Certificate from Assemblyman Ron Kim and Richard Gottfried. Photo credit: Peter Zhao

The 12th Annual Passport to Taiwan Festival offers many great performances, venues, activities, and, of course, delicious food. This year, the festival’s traditions continued on with new improvements such as the “Made in Taiwan” venue, where Taiwanese bicycle makers showcase their latest international award winning bikes in honor of Bike Month. As supporters of this wonderful festival, the AsianInNY team was there in full force again this year to show our love for the community. From bubble tea to shaved ice, calligraphy to dough figurine, McDonald’s to the Mets, Monkey Pilot to Hsu-Nami, everyone there had a great time.

Tony Wang, lead singer of Monkey Pilot band. Photo credit: Niko

The event was open to the public and each year the crowd gets bigger and more entertaining. People are all able to enjoy Taiwanese delicacies, participate in Taiwanese artistries, and appreciate local organizations that that put in their time and effort to make the festival possible. The food stands were definitely a crowd pleaser as it allowed participants to taste authentic Taiwanese dishes. The smell of the steam rice cakes, stir fried noodles, crispy chicken cutlets, fried fish cakes and many more, drew people to wait on very long lines despite the wait. Not only were people experienced Taiwanese culture through the food, but also the little workshops held at the festival was culturally informative. Kids and adults participated in these hands-on-activities. A popular venue for the children was the dough figurines. Using a variety of different colored dough, kids were able to mold their favorite animals and place it on an end of a wooden stick where it hardens and stands like a statue. Dough figurines date back to thousands of years ago when it was a major part of Chinese culture. To this day, to see that the artistry is still practiced is truly amazing and well admired. Some other favorite activities included face painting, paper cutting and puppet theatre.

Photo credit: Peter Zhao

With the growing popularity of this annual festival, some esteemed guests, such as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York Deputy Director General Alex Fan, State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Assemblyman Ron Kim, City Comptroller John C. Liu, and Councilman Robert Jackson all crashed the festival to show their support.

Thomas Chang of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Photo credit: Vincent Wei

This year also included a fundraising raffle. Many prizes were given out and some of them included 3 round-trip tickets to Taiwan with land tour included, restaurant certificates, teapot sets, and red envelopes with cash prizes. Congratulations to all the lucky winners!

Lin Shih-Pao. Photo credit: Peter Zhao

Some notable performances at this year’s festival were by Hsu-Nami and Monkey Pilot. Hsu-Nami was featured in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They are a New York City based electric progressive rock band. They were the ones who ended the show and the crowd was really into it. Before they went on, Monkey Pilot performed. They are made out of seasoned musicians from different famous Taiwan indie bands collaborating together in a super group. Their music was featured in Taiwanese drama soundtracks and got nominated in many different categories in the 21st and 22nd annual Golden Melody Awards, which is Taiwan’s premier music award. Other great performances at the festival included Techno Dancing Third Prince, TAANY Chamber Ensemble, Taipei Cultural Art Dance Troupe, 88Balaz, Torpid May, and Uzuhi with Lin Shih-Pao.

Photo credit: Vincent Wei

The AsianInNY team had an awesome time at this year’s festival. We will continue to support Passport to Taiwan and their efforts to improve and expand every year to make this special festival even better. We hope everyone in New York City enjoyed the event, that all the performers and organizations had a wonderful festival and we hope to see you guys there again in 2014!

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Photo credit: Vincent Wei

Alex Fan, Deputy Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York with Paiwan Tribe from Taiwan. Photo credit: Vincent Wei

Photo credit: Vincent Wei

Photo credit: Vincent Wei

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