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Chinatown Main Street prepares for annual festival

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  June 20, 2011 05:31 PM

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Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com
The Chinatown Main Street Festival takes place June 26.

The bustling streets of Chinatown will fill with visitors from throughout the city, across the country and around the world this Sunday to celebrate the annual Chinatown Main Street Festival.

Now in its sixth year, the festival has grown larger with each event, adding more exhibitors and drawing larger crowds, said Tony M. Yee, president of the festival’s host and organizer, Chinatown Main Street.

The nonprofit organization is one of 19 Main Streets programs across Boston working to revitalize the city’s business districts. “The purpose of this event is to promote Chinatown, promote Chinatown Main Street, promote the culture, and promote the services within Chinatown,” Yee said.

“We like to call it a big block party,” Yee said. “It’s like a big country fair … but in the city. And as you walk through, there’s so many different things to see.” Yee said the festival will take place across the neighborhood, at the Chinatown Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, but also “all throughout Hudson Street, Tyler Street, Harrison Ave. and Beach Street.”

Yee said the festival “averages between 5,000 to 10,000 people, depending on the weather,” and draws visitors that are “about 70 percent Asian, 30 percent non-Asian. And the people that come can be residents, or someone from out of town, or even tourists, because we work with the concierges in the hotels in the area and we let all the guests know that there’s a free event.”

Yee stressed that the event is free, open to all, and family friendly, with the streets closed to vehicular traffic so that they’re free for pedestrian access as well as for strollers and wheelchairs.

There will be activities and attractions for children, including origami lessons, folk dances, and art sculpted from colored rice dough. At the Chinatown Park, 10 martial arts club will perform the traditional Chinese lion dance and give brief martial arts demonstrations. There will also be a fashion show, and federal officers from US Customs and Border Protection will demonstrate the equipment and techniques they use to secure the country’s ports, airports and borders.

Many vendors at the festival are Chinatown businesses that will set up outside their existing stores and restaurants to sell food, Asian apparel, gift items and Asian arts and crafts, while others will come from across the region to offer their products and services.

Yee said one of the neighborhood’s biggest draws is the variety of its restaurants, which serve Asian foods ranging from the very traditional to those that have been tweaked for American tastes, and from countries and regions all across that continent.

“Chinatown is the one place where you can have almost every type of Asian food within a three- or four-block range,” Yee said. “For example, Malaysian, Thai, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Szechuan, Hong Kong-style, everything is right here. Vietnamese, Japanese. … Instead of traveling 4,000 miles across the globe, it’s all right here in Boston. If in doubt, just go one restaurant at a time. You can’t go wrong.”

The Chinatown Main Street Festival will take place this Sunday, June 26, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with opening remarks around 10 a.m. For more information, visit http://www.chinatownmainstreet.org/.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.

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