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An Asian Village is coming to the New York State Fair

Ellen Abbott

New Yorkers of Asian descent will have a place to call their own at the New York State Fair this year. An Asian Village will join the list of ethnicities showcased at the fair. Tai Shaw is superintendent of the new entity.

Tucked in an area in the rear of the fairgrounds along with the Latino Village, he said it offers Asians a chance to visit somewhere that feels like home.

"I’m hoping that bringing the village to the State Fair, that Asian people coming to the Fair say 'They have a home here,'" Shaw said.

It will join the other ethnicities at the fair, the Indian Village, Pan African Village and Latino Village, and like those, feature food, singing and dancing reflective of Asian cultures. Shaw hopes it can be a learning tool as well, letting fairgoers realize the diversity of the Asian community.

"A lot of people think Asia is Southeast Asia — Vietnam, China — Asia is a huge continent, and we want to make sure this year we educate people," Shaw said.

Shaw sees the timing of an Asian Village as important. Asian Hate increased during the pandemic. The State Legislature is currently considering developing curriculum in public schools in the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in an effort to combat anti-Asian violence. Shaw hopes the displays of food, dancing and education, also makes a dent in a disturbing increase in Asian Hate.

Shaw hopes bringing everyone together at the fair can help with that goal.

"Just because I look different than you, [it] doesn’t mean I’m inferior," Shaw said "I’m hoping with this Asian Village [we] break that barrier and everyone looks the same. We welcome everyone here."

"There’s a lot of second, third and fourth generations here who have never had the opportunity to go to Asia," Shaw continued. "We are gonna bring the essence of it, so they can say 'This is something similar. Maybe I’m not there, but this is close enough.'”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.