The inaugural Nesian Fest celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures and traditions, but its creator also hopes it leads to a bigger conversation.
The smell of kabobs on the grill pointed the way to the two-day festival, which kicked off Saturday at Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie.
“Nesian refers to Asians, Pacific Islanders mainly from regions of Melanesia, Polynesian, and Micronesia,” said Matthew Loh, CEO of Asia Times Square who created the festival.
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Loh said he hopes Nesian Fest sparks a dialog about community and kindness.
“Once we can replace ignorance with tolerance, apathy with empathy, and thoughtlessness with kindness, we will love each other, we will understand each other and we will accept each other even more,” Loh said.
The festival was being held two days after President Joe Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill designates a Department of Justice employee to facilitate the expedited review of reports of hate crimes and aims to improve the process of tracking and reporting those crimes.
Jacquelyn Minor, chair of the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce Women’s Alliance, came to the event to make personal connections.
“In the chamber, we recognize a need to connect more with Asian community,” Minor said.
She is hopeful that the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will help fight the rise in attacks.
“We need the legislation that’s going to put some teeth into what type of action will be taken against those people who are committing the crimes,” Minor said.
The festival is open Saturday until 10 p.m. The food, festivities and entertainment continue Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.