© 2024 KLCC

136 W 8th Ave
Eugene OR 97401

Contact Us

FCC Applications
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Eugene's Oregon Asian Celebration Reformats Itself For 2021

Mary Harrsch

An annual festival highlighting Asian culture has reinvented itself given the COVID-19 pandemic.  But organizers of the 36th annual Oregon Asian Celebration say it’ll still be an incredible experience.

As opposed to one day of festivities, this year’s event will be held on four consecutive Fridays beginning May 7th, at the downtown Eugene Park Blocks. Face masks, social distancing, and other protocols will be observed, as celebrants mark the Year of the Ox in an outdoor night market.

Credit Oregon Asian Celebration website
Poster for this year's Oregon Asian Celebration, the Year of the Ox.

“It’s about gathering, it’s about bringing community together," event director David Tam told KLCC. 

"It’s kinda like our own little annual family reunion and I mean “family” meaning the entire community, not just the Asian community.

"I think that’s really important to express and understand, that the community as a whole has supported our event, and we feel that we’re all inclusive.” 

Tam says there are many communities represented across the immediate region, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Cambodian, Laotioan, Thai, and Filipinos, among others.  He says while small individually, the local groups collaborate well to put on this annual event. 

As for his favorite part of the Oregon Asian Celebration, Tam says it's the food.  

"I love eating, all the food is great. Phenomenal."

In addition to the Park Blocks, a stretch of Willamette Street will feature exhibits and displays on Asian culture, fashion, and arts. Admission is free.

Celebration during turbulent times

This year’s observance comes at a time where hate crimes and violence against Asian people are making headlines.

Credit Pooja Chaudhary / Unsplash
Steamed dumplings are just some of the culinary delights visitors may find at the Oregon Asian Celebration.

Tam acknowledged that references to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” and “Kung flu” by prominent politiciansand pundits have made for a toxic political environment.  But he added Asian-Americans have endured racism in the past, including Japanese internment campsduring World War II.  

“We can’t allow this hate, this division, to occur," said Tam.  "And we all must be willing to stand up for each other, no matter who is being attacked.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
David Tam, event director for the Oregon Asian Celebration, in the Park Blocks area where this year's event will be held in May.

"It’s not about, “Oh you’re African-American,” or “You’re Asian”, or “You’re Hispanic” or “You’re Native American”, it doesn’t make any difference, if a person is being disrespected or attacked in any way, we need to stand up for each other. Let’s not hate each other, that’s all I’m asking.”

Tam said besides resilience, optimism is also strong in the Asian community. Social media and media outlets have been able to call out racist behavior more readily, and help create better understanding. 

Tan and other organizers welcome everyone to the Oregon Asian Celebration next month to have fun and learn about the many cultures within the Eugene-Springfield area.

EVENT DATES: May 7, 14, 21 & 28 

EVENT START TIME & END TIME: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

EVENT LOCATION: Downtown Eugene Park Blocks 8th Ave & Oak St


EVENT PRESENTER: Asian American Council of Oregon

Note: KLCC is a sponsor of the event, as well as the  City of Eugene, Northwest Community Credit Union, Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, the University of Oregon, and KVAL-TV.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Related Content