Lunar New Year food festival represents food, people from across Asia

Illustration by Killian Goodale-Porter.

Salma Escoto, Contributing Writer

The Lunar New Year Asian Street Food Festival, hosted by Kasama Collective and RVA Moon Market, hopes to bring Asian American and Pacific Islander culture into Richmond and introduce people to a new and enjoyable experience through the Lunar New Year, said Roxanne Atienza, one of the co-founders and event coordinators of Kasama Collective. 

“We really want to provide our local Richmond community with a passport to the street food capitals across Asia, this is supposed to take them out of Richmond and experience street food across places like Manila, Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei,” Atienza said. 

The Lunar New Year Asian Street Food Festival will be held at Stone Brewing Tap Room on Saturday, Feb. 24 from noon to 6 p.m. 

The event will feature over 40 Asian food trucks, live music, cultural performances and an array of local vendors. Popular Asian food businesses such as Matamis RVA, Mar Mar, Bun’d Up and Oh! Mochi are just a few of the featured food trucks, according to the event’s Facebook page. 

The event will highlight the Lunar New Year and Year of the Dragon through interactive activities such as cultural performances, attire, music and vendors, according to Atienza. 

“The Year of the Dragon is very significant because dragons are a very important symbol of wealth and power and strength for many Asian communities,” Atienza said

Atienza also happens to be born in the Year of the Dragon, she said.

Aubriel Rivera, the other co-founder and event coordinator of Kasama Collective, said the Lunar New Year and Year of the Dragon are the main themes of the event. 

While the Lunar New Year is a traditional Chinese holiday, several other Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures will be celebrated, according to Rivera. 

“Having all of the communities represented is the best way that we’re representing Lunar New Year,” Rivera said. 

In collaboration with Kasama Collective, RVA Moon Market is co-hosting the Lunar New Year Asian Street Food Festival. RVA Moon Market hopes to highlight the Year of the Dragon by bringing in local Asian American and Pacific Islander vendors that specialize in their cultural craft of food, art and other creative avenues, according to its website.

Liza Matz, founder of Mar Mar, is one of the many vendors attending this festival. She celebrates her Filipino heritage and the Lunar New Year by selling her traditionally Asian-inspired chili oils, she said.

While Matz’s products are inspired by Filipino culture, some of her products such as her popular chili oil are inspired by Chinese elements, according to Matz. 

AJ Adan, founder of Matamis RVA and one of the vendors, sells non-traditional Filipino foods, specifically desserts and ube-inspired dishes, she said.

The color red is a major part of the Lunar New Year celebration, especially during a year as significant as the Year of the Dragon, according to Adan. 

She celebrates through traditions such as eating 12 grapes at midnight, cleaning and eating traditional food like her favorite — noodles, she said.

“I think through food we’re gonna bring people together,” Adan said.

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