Sunday, 23Aug09, the KC Kendo Club participated in the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Swope Park in Kansas City, Missouri. About nine of us went onstage in front of a few hundred people and did a little demo. I was constantly afraid someone was going to fall off the edge of the stage! The stage was also very hard, and not easy to sit seiza on. We went on after the Israeli folk dancers and before the Lithuanian folk dancers, which is kind of funny in light of another blog I read not too long ago likening martial arts to folk dancing. I’d post the link to it, but I forget where I read it.
Anyway, we were based out of the Japan booth and the Japan-America Society people were very accommodating to us. I’m a member of the JAS as well, so I recognized most of the people working at the booth. After the demo we were given some of the Japanese food they were selling. I particularly liked the rice balls. I would have stayed to help out with the booth, but my folks came up with my sister and her kids, so I walked around with them doing the family thing.
And ate a LOT of food! I actually ran out of room in my stomach before I ran out of money in my wallet. I ate a Scottish sausage, Scandinavian pancake balls, Swedish meat balls, Kenyan nyama chomo (meat on a stick), a Greek gyro, and some Japanese rice products. I wanted to try more, I just couldn’t!
The demo itself went well, I think. I felt it was maybe a little long, and my father told me he overheard some people making comments along those lines. Joe Q. Public doesn’t know what he’s looking at, so I’m sure the subtleties of what sensei was trying to get across were lost on most people. The set up was logical, though, and I’m not at all about playing to the lowest common denominator, just maybe playing to a shorter attention span. But we got lots of applause and a few laughs, so I felt the whole thing was good.
I watched some of the folk dancing later on as I was wandering around. Folk dancers seem to be either very old or very young. They were all of them good that I watched. A lot of the music started to sound the same, though, speaking of subtleties being lost on outsiders. I saw some of the “Parade of Nations fashion show”, but not much. Which wasn’t a big deal, because if ever there was a place to people watch, it was at the festival. A lot of the performers and workers were walking around in traditional clothes, and quite a few attendees were as well. It was very interesting all the way around.
Afterward we had a couple people visit us at the Japan booth and inquire about the club. I found out today from a friend who attended that there was one person who is a kendoka and didn’t know that Kansas City had a club. So, out of the demo we’ll probably get a handful of curious people showing up, and hopefully one of them will stick around for a while. It seems that our club is a nice size, and it’s exciting for me when we can get a lot of people there at once for something.
I enjoy doing things like this, and it was a good opportunity for some of our families to meet each other. Build community and all that, which I am so fond of. We’re having two Japanese festivals come up soon, the Greater Kansas City festival and the Saint Louis festival. I’m committed to the GKC festival, and I have thrown my hat in the ring for road tripping out to the STL fest. Road trips are good bond builders, so hopefully we’ll get a handful of folks wanting to head across state.