The Autumn Moon Festival celebrated the reunion of family and return to in-person events at the Bowers Museum, located in Santa Ana, on Sept. 19.
Genevieve Barrios-Southgate, the museum’s director of community programs, said approximately 1,000 people gathered at the museum to celebrate an important East and Southeast Asian festival.
The Autumn Moon Festival was the first in-person event the museum has hosted in 18 months, Barrios-Southgate said. The event took three months of planning, and Barrios-Southgate said it was nerve racking to plan and execute a live event again.
“We kept going over in our minds, ‘OK, Did we cover this, did we cover that?’I’m quite happy with the way it came out,” Barrios-Southgate said.
The festival is an essential event for the Southern California community because of the important Asian community in Orange County, Barrios-Southgate said.
“We have so much talent to pull from in the Southern California community and it’s a lot of fun to put this together, and it’s our way to reach out to the Asian community,” she said.
Barrios-Southgate said her favorite part of every festival is seeing the audience enjoy the performances and she views this as an opportunity to showcase traditions of different cultures in Orange County.
The traditional festival keeps family at the heart of the celebration. Ethan Xing, the director of operations of Sino US Performing Arts Organization, said that the important tradition of the festival is a day for family reunion, harmony and unity.
Xing said that no matter how far one travels, the festival is a day for many to return home.
“You will have dinner with your relatives, with your families. Just spend a very beautiful night watching the beautiful moon,” Xing said.
He added that the festival event is important for diversity and the community to get to know one another and communicate with the Southern California family.
“We are very happy to see folks from different communities participating in today’s event, cheering for the artists, enjoying the traditional food and to learn a little bit about Asian cultures,” Xing said.
Xing said that during this unusual time, unity and reunion is the most important thing for him, his friends and everybody.
The festival hosted six different performers and performing groups including traditional Vietnamese dances, Korean dances, a kung-fu demonstration, Chinese fusion music, meditation and Sichuan opera face-changing.
BeiBei Monter, a Chinese guzheng player, performed Chinese fusion music at the festival with her husband. Monter and her husband brought a new sound to the audience by blending Eastern and Western styles of music with the guzheng and electric guitar.
Monter added that she performs at various Asian cultural festivals, including Autumn Moon festivals and Chinese New Year. Monter said she celebrated the festival when she was younger and continues to celebrate now that she is here in the United States.
“It’s just something to really keep us to remember the tradition. Thinking about family or people’s folks still in China,” Monter said.
She added that it is important that her daughter knows about the Autumn Moon Festival and knows what it symbolizes — family, love and harmony.
Monter said the festival traditionally celebrates harvest and that it is linked to beautiful folktales about the moon and love.
“They celebrate food and then they celebrate togetherness. They can enjoy the moon and the weather is so nice in this time of the year,” Monter said.
First-time attendees Vicky Feeko and her daughter volunteered for the festival as members of the National Charity League. Feeko said that the organization focuses on leadership, culture and philanthropy, so they volunteer often.
Feeko said that a festival of this significance provides exposure to the culture and brings awareness in a fun way to the local, multicultural community.
She added that her favorite parts of the festival were the dancing and the colorful costumes. Feeko said she would definitely return to celebrate the Autumn Moon Festival at the museum again.