The APCA Lunar Festival of SoCal is held annually in downtown Riverside, California. It’s a celebration of the Asian Pacific American heritage and it’s presence in the inland empire region. It’s a cultural experience of dances, food, crafts, and a parade featuring many different regions and aspects of the Asian-Pacific cultures. This was my first time attending the event but I assure you it will not be my last.
The parade featured dragons of course, as well as representatives from different martial art clubs, women’s clubs, as well as a royal court of children. I’m not entirely sure of all the groups or the exact status of the kids but it was still a nice parade to see. There’s isn’t a big crowd at this parade so you don’t really have to worry about being able to see or finding a good spot. The parade goes around the corner of Market street and ends where all the action happens on Mission Inn avenue.
Things to do
There’s plenty of vendors to visit here and most offer an array of Asian-Pacific goods however some of the prices are inflated. After-all, who wants to pay $10 for an umbrella that you can get at the Swap Meet for $2? But to each is his own and what you’re willing to pay is what you’re willing to pay. There’s plenty of “year of the dog” souvenirs to buy and also a children’s village where kids were able to decorate their own craft item or pet an animal at the petting zoo. The parking was free anywhere you parked near this event in downtown Riverside. While the actual event was alcohol free, some of the restaurants lining Mission Inn avenue were open for business. There was a bounce house that had a neat maze for the kiddos, rock climbing, and an alien shuttle ride that we tried to get our girls to go on with us but they wouldn’t. For once, they weren’t that adventurous! There was also a giant balloon thing that you can get inside and run around in (see pic below since I don’t know what this is actually called). There were 2 stages featuring different performances throughout the day as well so you can sit down and relax and be entertained. Of course, I always have to know where the potty is and there were plenty of port-o-potties located in several areas off the main street. This was nice because you didn’t have a toilet right in your walking path or right smack in the middle of the event. Outside hand washing stations were set up near the potties and that was a nice added bonus!
Stuff to Eat!
There’s plenty of Asian type dishes here to choose from. I cheated on my diet a little with the Satay plate complete with white rice, chow mein noodles, and egg rolls. I shared it with my kids though so maybe it wasn’t too bad. The satay was excellent and they added some delicious peanut sauce on top. To finish it up I got us a Taro Boba to share. I’m so glad my kids like Taro flavor. For a long time I felt like I was the only Mexican-American who liked the taste of taro. Never tried it? Try it in a boba, it’s better than trying it on your Hawaiian vacation where it’s a staple side dish and served up as a pasty condiment.
The atmosphere was pleasant and people seemed happy to be there. There were many people of different walks of life as well and it’s always wonderful to see us all celebrate together, even if we aren’t celebrating our own specific cultural heritage. Learning about another culture is fun and exciting and allows you to gain a new appreciation for someone’s heritage. It also helps to tear down the barriers of racism, fear, and hatred. While I lived in Hawaii for 3 years when I was in the Navy, It’s not a complete look into Asian Pacific life so I look forward to the day that I can visit China and Japan, two places on my bucket list!
Note: this review of the event is my own opinion, I was not paid in any way to attend nor was I paid in any way for my blog post. To get more local Southern California event reviews, subscribe to DIYerfy!