Union hosts Asian American and Pacific Islander Food and Music Festival

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UNION, NJ — The second Asian American and Pacific Islander Food and Music Festival was hosted recently on Stuyvesant Avenue in Union. Hundreds of attendees gathered to celebrate Union’s local AAPI community.

Ian Ali of Lifetime Entertainment has been a DJ for 25 years. He played a mixture of tunes in between performances. He said the festival was “a great event to bring people together.” Ali was looking forward to getting Filipino food, “which is awesome,” he added.

Other entertainment included an acrobatic performance by Guinness World Record holder Lina Liu, a Samurai performance, a Polynesian performance, a Lion Dance performance by the Murray Hill Chinese School, Taiko drumming by Taikoza and community line dancing by Studio Ligaya.

Food and beverage vendors included Brownie Bar, Morris Thai Cuisine, The Silver Glass Mobile Bar, Desi Is Me Indian Fusion, Moffle Bar and Qsina 8.

Praise Christian Church of Bayonne was giving out free items such as bottled water, snacks, fruit and scrunchies. Pastor Tin Lepasana said, “We are showing our love for the community.”

Shalini Ascalon, who is a school nurse in Union County and the vice president of Youth Ministry at the church, added, “We’re letting the people know we’re here.”

Ran Wei Baker is a Chinese American children’s book author who lives in Maplewood. She recently self-published the Boba Bear Bilingual series, seeing the need for more bilingual books in the children’s market.

“My husband doesn’t speak Chinese,” she said. “When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I saw the need for bilingual children’s books.”

Matthew McGrath, of Union, was at the festival with his 5-year-old daughter, Emily. “She loved the live acrobats,” he said. “And I love hanging out with her.”

Leilany Quinones recently moved to Union from Newark. She was purchasing Chinese calligraphy from Nancy Wang. “I’m trying to get more involved,” Quinones said. “There’s so much to do. I never get bored. I love it here!”

Joy Ann Cabanos was giving a class in origami. She teaches workshops at the Union Public Library. She said there’s a lot of benefits to creating origami. “It’s a meditative practice,” she said. “Repetition calms you down.”

Selina Sabolboro, founder of Moffle Bar, serves waffles on a stick with a variety of toppings. She also serves musubi, which is nori with rice topped with spam and teriyaki sauce. There’s also a vegan musubi, where soy replaces spam.

She’s been in business since 2016, covering events.

Nicholas Jose has been running The Silver Glass Mobile Bar for the past two years. He makes non-alcoholic “mocktails,” such as Shirley Temple, Classic Mai Tai and Malibu Bay Breeze.

“This is my first public debut,” he said.

A 13-year-old named Adam won the Samurai competition. He said it was his first time.

Union police officers Brian Goncalves, Joseph Devlin and Jeremy Castillo were in attendance. Devlin said he was enjoying the food, music and cultural events. “Dancing, drums … the Asian culture aspect is very intriguing. It’s bringing it to the community.”

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta