Families get cultured at Ringling's Asian Family Fest

jholmes@bradenton.comOctober 11, 2009 

SARASOTA

The unusual October heat didn’t hold area families back from experiencing Asian culture Saturday at the Ringling International Arts Festival’s Asian Family Funfest.

The museum allowed children younger than 17 to the event for free, which drew a steady crowd that included 51-year-old Bradenton resident Mona Vancott and her granddaughter, Arianna Carnevale, 9.

“I’m glad we came here,” said Vancott, partaking in the festival fare for the first time.

Set in the museum’s courtyard, the day featured dramatic lion dancing, and acrobatic stunts and contortions performed by the crowd-pleasing Wu Yang Dong Chinese Acrobats.

A crowd watched in awe as one of the acrobats balanced four tiers of glassware on her nose while rocking on a platform. She was followed by three more acrobats performing stunts on Chinese vertical poles. They climbed the poles upside down and then back up again.

The rhythms of the Taiko drummers also captivated the crowd and permeated the Ringling campus.

Vancott’s favorite performance of the day was the lion dancing, she said.

To make the event more interactive, families were given special passports to take to each area of “Asia” as they explored the cultures.

They could make origami in the Japan tent, hear a folktale in the Thailand booth and get a Henna tattoo in the India tent. They received stickers at each stop to fill passport books.

Arianna’s first stop was China, where she had fun designing a colorful kite. She planned to go on and do yoga in India and then venture around the museum.

The funfest was an extension of the museum’s exhibit, “Paths to Paradise: The World of Buddhism.” The free day for children was created to bring families together in an educational, but fun way.

“This affords children, their parents and grandparents the opportunity to spend quality time together in an engaging setting,” said Maureen Zaremba, curator of education at the Ringling.

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