A local group, AAPI San Luis Obispo County, launched its first festival.
The AAPI SLO Festival is an event dedicated to celebrating the diverse Asian culture and being able to come together as a community.
Asian Americans who call SLO and its surrounding cities home wanted an event that would unify all Asian groups and allow them an opportunity to come together in one space.
While organizers acknowledged the rise in Asian American hate crimes, that's not what they wanted their first-ever local festival to focus on.
“We’re not just making aware the hate aspect of it but we want to bring together our community and strengthen our community, so that’s what today is all about," said Mia Shin, APPI SLO co-founder.
Vendors, performers, food, and music filled the SLO Public Market area and for many in attendance, it provided a sense of belonging.
“It’s really nice to be in an environment where we see people that look like us especially going to a predominately white institution in a predominately white community. It’s hard not to feel isolated," said Cal Poly student, Zoey Levit.
“We always hear about strengthen in numbers and the only way you’re going to see that is if you physically manifest it and physically see the people come together," said Kaela Lee, APPI SLO co-founder.
The vendors say it’s a chance for them to share their culture with others.
“Today we are here to make some onigiri. We are here to present a Japanese culture specifically, it’s a traditional Japanese dish it’s a rice ball today we have it shaped in a triangle," said Cal Poly student, Jerry Yiyang Huo.
Omega Xi Delta is the first and only Asian fraternity at Cal Poly.
“It excites me to be able to bring all these cultures and see everyone with all of these smiling faces, enjoying the different foods," said Yiyang Huo.
Organizers say they hope to be able to do this event annually.
May marks AAPI Heritage Month but organizers say their wish is that the community continues to celebrate and honor Asian culture beyond this month.