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Cleveland Asian Festival

The Cleveland Asian Festival takes place inside and around Asia Plaza where there are food vendors, a marketplace, booths held by local organizations and groups, plenty of entertainment and health screenings inside Asia Plaza.

2024 DATE: May 18-19, 2024
Location: Asia Plaza
2999 Payne Ave
Cleveland, OH 44114
Website: https://clevelandasianfestival.org/

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My previous festival visits were in 2016 and 2011.

The post below was documented on May 21, 2023.

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Festival Structure

The Cleveland Asian Festival is a two day festival that takes place in and around Asia Plaza, running along part of Payne Ave and within two parking lots. Asia Plaza’s plaza parking lot hosts the food court while the parking lot across the street hosts a marketplace. Among the vendors in the marketplace and along Payne Ave, there are tables held by local organizations that may provide services to the Asian communities, share/teach cultural aspects (ie teach a language) or help the community in another way.

There are also two entertainment tents on the festival grounds.

Inside Asia Plaza, restaurants are open, stores have sidewalk sales, free lessons to the game of Go are offered and there are free health screenings.

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Food

One of the main reasons people come to the Cleveland Asian Festival is for the food as offerings include Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese dishes. Such a variety in one location helps visitors better familiarize themselves with neighborhood restaurants and possibly try something new.

The majority of food vendors can be found in a food court located in the Asia Plaza parking lot, while more food trucks can be found along E 27th Street (next to the parking lot) or along Payne Ave.

Lines can run very long, particularly at peak meal hours, so it’s best to either come at off times or bring family/friends to split off in different lines with a planned rendezvous point. If you are part of a small party and the food court is particularly crowded, deciding on what to eat may be frustrating. While the website lists the food vendors, it does not tell you what each vendor’s menu. Rather than jumping from place to place to see what each vendor is offering, you may look to see what people are eating around you; if something looks good, ask where they got it and just go to that line.

If the food truck lines are simply too long, you may want to try eating at one of the restaurants inside Asia Plaza, such as Li Wah. I did take the opportunity to try a bubble waffle for the first time at Ball Ball Waffle inside.

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Vendors

The majority of gift vendors are found at the marketplace, where offerings include garments, keychains, plushies, hats, and just about anything with a Pokemon or Nintendo game character on it. There were also candles, 3-D printed dragons and other interesting items.

Among the vendors in the marketplace and in other areas of the festival grounds, there are also local organizations with some connection to the Asian community. MotivAsians, for example, deals with professional development and social networking, while AsiaOhio is a health and human services agency for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Northeast Ohio. More groups are motivated to share and teach a language and culture or they may deal with community resources like air and water.

The FBI even has a table with activity books and sticker badges for kids.

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Entertainment

There are two tents set up at opposite ends of the festival grounds with a great variety of entertainment.

Among performances, there are Kung Fu demonstrations, musical performances with Chinese Flutes and Taiko Drums, cultural dances (Indian, Japanese, Kwan Family Lion Dance) and more.

There’s a little something for everyone, so grab a seat and enjoy.