Over 2,000 students gathered on Ho Plaza Friday night to sample Asian foods and watch a variety of performances at Cornell’s seventh annual Mid-Autumn Festival, according to Chinese Students Association executive board member Alex Zhang ’18.
Hosted by the CSA, the festival is the second-largest student-run event at Cornell — after Slope Day — Zhang said. Friday’s festivities featured groups including Yamatai, Hanchum, Wushu and Lion Dance. Asian organizations also set up booths and offered free food, including traditional Chinese mooncakes.
Attendees lauded the festival, calling it an exciting opportunity to experience a different culture. Vanessa Tejada ’20 said she had “never, ever, ever come close to [seeing] anything like this.”
Iris Tan, ’18, added that she “loved” seeing how willing students are to embrace Asian culture. “I love how open people are to trying new things,” Tan said. “There is a lot of engagement, a lot of new students coming in.”
Others added that the festival gave Cornellians from Asia a sense of familiarity and a chance to immerse themselves in their native cultures.
“I’m very happy there is a mid-autumn event,” said Yiling Zhang grad, a student from China. ‘It’s great that there are these Asian groups outside of China.”
In addition to celebrating a traditional Chinese holiday, Zhang said that one intent of the event was “to get a lot of Asian organizations on campus together to show off what everyone’s all about.”
Alice Li ’18, a member of Cornell’s Asian and Asian American Center — which had a booth at the festival — said her organization also wanted to empower the community and increase voter registration, especially among Asian youth.
CSA decided to hold the event on the same day as the homecoming laser and fireworks shows in order to reach more people — especially those who are not typically involved in Asian organizations — according to Zhang. He added that it took intensive planning to ensure the night went smoothly.
“We need a stage, we need amplified sound, we run the event until late hours and we have a ton of people attending,” he said. “We need to set up hours before the event, we’re serving food, everything requires many permits and approvals from different people and departments.”
Acknowledging the hard work that went into organizing the festival, which he said was planned in large part by Connie Thana ’19 and Iris Zhao ’19, Zhang said the end of the night was his favorite part of the event.
“That’s the point where we’re like, ‘guys we did it!’” Zhang said. “And we’re all completely exhausted but really happy.”