Howard County officials are expecting several thousand people to turn out for the third annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Festival this weekend.

Residents and visitors can spend Saturday afternoon “celebrating the vibrant cultures, traditions, and contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Howard County and beyond,” the event website says.

The festival, to be held at The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, is free to the public.

“Currently, Asian Americans account for one in five or 20% of residents in Howard County, and it’s important we foster a feeling of belonging as our communities continue to grow,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.

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Throughout the day, festivalgoers can enjoy performances from nearly 30 groups, try food from a variety of food trucks and shop locally, Ball said.

Attendance has risen since the inaugural event in 2022, when more than 3,000 people came out. Ball said 4,000 attended the festival last year.

“In 2024, we’re proud to have more opportunities to shop local AAPI-owned businesses, experience cultural exchange through Tai Chi and arts demonstrations,” Ball said.

This year’s festival will feature for the first time a Siva Afi Heremana — Samoan fire dancing — performance, Ball added. Dance, arts and martial arts will also be featured.

The AAPI festival is separate from the Asia Collective Night Market that was held in Howard County in August 2022 to celebrate Asian culture. That event drew a much larger 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 weren’t enough law enforcement or emergency services for the scale of the event.

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month runs through the end of May.

Here’s what to know about the AAPI Festival:


Saturday May 11 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.


The Chrysalis at Merriweather Park, an example of futuristic urban art with a 5,000-square-foot concert stage.


Live performances including dance, martial arts and music will take place on the main stage.

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Festivalgoers can also enjoy various Asian and Pacific Island cuisine at food trucks that include Thai Pinto, Blowfish Poke & Grill and Phowheels.

There will also be local vendors and artisans with merchandise for sale and opportunities to learn about issues, resources and organizations that support the Asian American Pacific Islander community.


The festival is hosted by Howard County and the Inner Arbor Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to make Merriweather Park an arts and culture destination. Ball and the trust are partnering with the Howard County AAPI Commission, AAPI affinity organizations and the community to put on the festival.

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