Gil Asakawa and the other organizers of the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival expected a modest crowd when they launched the event in 2001. Instead, Asakawa says, more than 15,000 people appeared – far too many for the five humble food stalls that were set up.
Fifteen years later, the Dragon Boat Festival expects more than 100,000 attendees.
While the festival can be traced to ancient Chinese tradition, it’s meant to unify more than ten distinct Asian communities. From Indians to Koreans to Myanmar’s exiled Mon, all groups with this shared geographic identity are lifted up into the public eye.