this weekend's cleveland asian festival will build on last year's success

The second annual Cleveland Asian Festival will be held this weekend, Saturday and Sunday May 21 and 22, at the Asia Plaza shopping center and on surrounding streets. The festival is a celebration of the culture, diversity, and people who live, work and play in the AsiaTown neighborhood.

Loosely bordered by St. Clair and Payne avenues and E. 30th and 40th streets, AsiaTown is where many Chinese Americans call home. But so too do recent arrivals from Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. Not surprisingly, the neighborhood boasts a full suite of Asian-owned businesses, shops and markets. Ethnic food fans make almost daily excursions here for the city's finest dim sum, pho, and Korean barbecue. Adventurous home cooks frequent the numerous groceries for hard-to-find imported ingredients.

The event will build upon its remarkable success last year, when over 10,000 attendees showed up at the first-ever event. The two-day fest boosts economic growth in the AsiaTown neighborhood by introducing this ethnic enclave to thousands of Clevelanders who may otherwise never discover it.

Among this year's festivities are appearances by "Last Comic Standing" winner Dat Phan and "Gossip Girl" actress Yin Chang, egg roll and samosa eating competitions, and numerous dance exhibitions. Dozens of food vendors will selling tastes of ethnic specialties.

The event is free and open to the public and runs from 11 a.m. till 7 p.m. both days.

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