Mid-Autumn Festival Draws More Attendees than Ever

Nana Karayama, Features Editor
karayama@grinnell.edu

With lively dance performances, food catered by China Sea restaurant, soulful duets and, of course, mooncakes, this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, held on Oct. 3, had the largest audience in its three-year history.

Held in the Harris Center, the event was co-hosted by the Chinese Student Association (CSA), Korean Cultural Experience (KCE) and the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA). It also had additional support from the Chinese and Japanese Departments.

Celebrated in a multitude of countries in Asia, the Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a time to get together with relatives who live far away.

“We obviously can’t do that [at Grinnell], so we wanted to hold an event to make everyone feel at home,” said Cora Wang ’18, CSA Publicity Coordinator.

Over 200 people stayed until the end of the festival, an improvement to an issue that the hosts had been grappling with in the past.

“We know that it can be hard for people to stay when the food runs out,” said Chen Wang ’18, CSA President. “This year we [were] really happy to see a lot of people stay until the end.”

In order to make guests stay, the organizers made several changes to the program. One was shortening the time of the entire festival.

“Previously it was two hours long, but this year’s was an hour and half long,” Cora said.

The performances were also of higher quality, selected through a process of several auditions. These included musical performances, Chinese martial arts and dances by Koreagraphy and VSA.

Members of the VSA perform to Vietnamese Pop during the  Mid-Autumn Festival. (Photo by Sno Zhao)

Members of the VSA perform to Vietnamese Pop during the
Mid-Autumn Festival. (Photo by Sno Zhao)

“We wanted to introduce contemporary Vietnamese pop culture,” said Duy Duong ’18, VSA Social Coordinator. Duong cited YouTube as a good source for inspiration and reference.

The program this year also incorporated audience participation. Audience members participated in a Chinese hacky sack competition. During the finale, a duet performed by Xiangdong Xie ’19 and Mike Zou ’19, the audience was told to take out their phone flashlights and wave them to the music.

The snack intermission had mooncakes and variously-flavored Pocky treats. According to Cora, the treats encouraged some participants to stay longer than they had planned.

Preparation for the Mid-Autumn Festival started in August, when the cabinet members of the CSA communicated via Skype and sent emails to other participating organizations.

“We [wanted] to purchase a lot of decorations and some of the mooncakes from China, [so] we had to do it then,” Cora said.
The official planning started after school began when members of all hosting organizations and faculty from the Chinese and Japanese Department were present.

The Mid-Autumn Festival was originally planned for Sept. 26 but was postponed because with Family Weekend and Beyoncé Harris later that night, the College was not able to provide enough student staff.

“We found out four days before the event,” Chen said. “We were talking about all the possible options, such as holding it at Gardner, but we decided to move the date.”

This schedule change, however, ended up being beneficial because it allowed performers more time to practice.

“We were already ready for the show,” Duong said. “But more time meant more time to refine our moves.”

The next event of this scale will be the Spring Festival, which will again include the CSA, KCE and the VSA as co-hosts.