Growing up in the South River school district, Jeremiah Batucan noticed there were very few people of color.

As he went on through the school system, he noticed a limited number of Asian people. And he observed that as different groups started to have events celebrating their cultures, there were very few, if any, events for the Asian community.

Asian Americans made up about 4% of Anne Arundel County’s population in 2022.

The lack of diversity and a trip to the Philippines at age 21 motivated Batucan, whose father is Filipino, to bring “the Filipino public to Annapolis” by hosting the inaugural Asian American Festival in Anne Arundel County.

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Batucan and his networking company, Peake Life Events, along with ABC Events, will host the festival on Sunday, April 7 at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville. Tickets range from $10-$15 and children under 14 are free. The festival will feature performances, food trucks, and arts and crafts from different cultures representing the heritage of Filipinos, Koreans, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Pacific Islanders.

“I don’t think there’s really been [any] other events that have kind of done all of Southeast Asia in the Pacific,” Batucan said.

The festival, which is being held during the Year of the Dragon, will have food vendors from different regions of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The list of vendors includes Namit Filipino Barbecue, Tae-Gu Kimchi, SeaSalt, Ekiben, District Boba and Bmore Mochichi.

There will be martial art demonstrations of Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Filipino Kali Stick Fighting. Musical performances include DJ Manila, the Baltimore Chinese Dragon Team, and Mabuhay.

“Anne Arundel County looks forward to hosting and celebrating our Asian neighbors during the first annual Asian American Festival,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said.

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Howard County held an Asia Collective Night Market in August 2022 to celebrate Asian culture. The event drew a large crowd, with many complaining of long lines and traffic backups along Interstate 70 and other roads that caused some to give up their tickets.

Others raised safety concerns, saying there were not enough law enforcement officers or emergency services for the scale of the Howard County event.

Baltimore Banner reporter Clara Longo de Freitas contributed to this report.

Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter.

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