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Asian festival expands into city center

Thousands expected to mark August Moon

Organizers of this weekend's August Moon Festival expect to draw more people than ever since it has moved to a more spacious location and its popularity continues to grow.

The 20th annual festival will be Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Hancock Street in Quincy Center. The location was switched from President Plaza, where it was held the previous three years, to fit a much larger crowd, possibly as many as 10,000 people. Last year about 5,000 took part in the celebration.

The festival's popularity reflects Quincy's large Asian population. John Brothers, executive director of Quincy Asian Resources, the nonprofit that has run the festival for the past five years, estimated that about 20 percent of the city's residents are Asian immigrants.

Tackey Chan, chairman of the festival, said it highlights Quincy's diverse population.

"This is part of bringing the Asian-American culture to the city and for people to come experience it with us," he said.

Quincy has embraced the festival this year more than before by providing its downtown location and larger contributions to the event's infrastructure, said Brothers.

August Moon "is a major cultural event, woven into the art of the city's fabric," he said. "The city's providing a lot of support. It's not just an Asian festival anymore; it's a Quincy festival."

The event will feature performances by Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Japanese artists. Highlights will include a tai chi sword folk dance, a lion dance, a peacock dance, and other cultural dances, such as an Irish step dance. Food vendors will sell everything from sushi to egg rolls, and there will be crafts, exhibits, programming, and activities for the young and old.

One of the festival's main attractions this year will be free samples of mooncakes, traditionally eaten during the August Moon Festival. Kam Man Food of Quincy, the largest Asian food market in New England, will provide more than 2,400 free samples of the cake at its booth. Typically mooncake is imported from Hong Kong, but Kam Man decided to make its own this year and offer it at the festival, according to Wan Wu, the company's general manger.

Wu said mooncake is a tasty treat, and he hopes it will educate people about Asian culture.

"The August Moon Festival is very similar to these harvest festivals held in America right after the harvest time to celebrate their harvest," Wu said. "August Moon is a time of clear skies, so you just enjoy the moon and eat your mooncake, like on Thanksgiving when you enjoy turkey."

The August Moon Festival is the second biggest holiday in China, after the Chinese New Year, and is celebrated in many other Asian countries, such as Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Singapore. The Chinese generally hold the August Moon festival on the eighth moon of the lunar year, which makes the date of the actual celebration Sept. 25 this year, but organizers of the Quincy festival agreed to have their city's celebration a bit earlier, before it gets too cold.