Dancers in flowing pale blue and pink dresses gracefully strode across the stage.
Flower petals, of an earlier number, were scattered on the ground. Carroll Creek served as the backdrop for the Zhong Shen Dance Group and many other performers on Saturday at the Asian American Center of Frederick’s Celebrate Asian Heritage event.
Elizabeth Chung, the center’s executive director, said the event marks the first in a cultural series to be held on the first Saturday of each month through September along Carroll Creek. The launch event was scheduled to take place on May 7, but was postponed due to bad weather.
The center, a non-profit organization, offers citizenship classes, translation services, English classes, workforce development and more.
Chung said the goal of the cultural series was to celebrate diversity, so it was fitting that the Celebrate Asian Heritage event took place during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The performers represented many countries, such as Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam and China.
“Our group always promotes Chinese culture,” said Zhong Shen Dance Group member Kaiti Yen.
The dancers came from Montgomery County for the event. They have full-time jobs, according to Yen, but they make time to dance because it’s their passion. They have been dancing together for at least 10 years.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to share culture,” Yen said.
At the top of the stage steps, the smell of grilled chicken wafted through a hungry crowd. Vendors served fried rice, teriyaki shrimp, yakitori chicken and more. The young people made crafts in the shade of the tents.
Frederick residents Ayesha Jackson and her 10-year-old son Casen launched butterfly origami paper airplanes they had just made.
Jackson said his neighbor told him about the event.
“I was like, ‘That would be a good thing to do,'” Jackson said.
Casen launched his plane into the sky again and again. Somehow it came back to him with every fingertip throw.
“He loves airplanes,” his mother said.
Artist and Brunswick resident Lea Craigie taught visitors how to make model airplanes. His portfolio, however, includes work on a much larger scale.
Craigie is a muralist, oil painter, and digital artist who was featured as the Official Artist of the 2022 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC
On Saturday, her depictions of cherry blossoms, bees and butterflies adorned her little corner of the heritage event.
Craigie said she had known Wuiping Yap of the Asian American Center of Frederick for years and wanted to support the Celebrate Asian Heritage event.
Yap serves as the event coordinator for the center. On Saturday, she shared messages of unity with the crowd between performances.
“At the end of the day, we’re all the same. It doesn’t matter what we look like. … We all have to be good neighbours,” Yap said into the microphone, drawing applause.
Chung in an interview expressed a similar sentiment.
“We all come from different regions, but we are one and the same human race,” she said.
Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller