By Joseph Kamiya
The Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host its Annual Okinawa Bazaar on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the OAA Center in Gardena. This event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and is currently the only Okinawa-focused festival in Southern California.
What started out as a small gathering of members has grown into an intergenerational cultural event that brings together hundreds of families for an afternoon of tasty food, soulful entertainment, fun games, raffle drawings (to win Disneyland tickets), and more.
This event is organized by the Okinawa Association of America (OAA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed by Okinawan immigrants over a century ago. The organization has been kept alive by multiple generations of driven volunteers and generous donors. 2019 marks the OAA’s 110th anniversary and the OAA Center’s 20th anniversary.
“We are continuing the work of our founders and early leaders,” said Edward Kamiya, OAA President. “Also, we are truly honored that so many of their families are continuing their legacy by donating to and/or volunteering at the OAA.”
The OAA Center is located at 16500 S. Western Ave., Gardena.
Early arrival recommended as streetside parking is limited and popular food/merchandise items sell out quickly. Booths will only accept prepaid scrips (please go to the scrips/information table first). More information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 310-532-1929 (weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
The food booths will feature a number of maasan (delicious) Okinawan foods such as saataa andaagii (“Okinawan dango”), Uchinaa suba (Okinawa soba), ashitibichi (pig’s feet), rafutee (Okinawa-style braised pork belly), ice cream made with beni-imo (Okinawan purple potato), and taco rice (a popular fusion dish in Okinawa). There will also be local festival staples like spam musubi, shaved ice, beef bowls, and chili rice (vegetarian).
The all-day entertainment program will showcase the traditional and contemporary performing arts of Okinawa (music, dance, and taiko), karate demonstrations, Hawai‘ian dance, and more. This year’s special guests include the energetic eisaa drumming students from El Marino Language School and local hula and ʻukulele group, Puniwai Hula Halau.
Raffles and Shopping
For those who want to start their holiday kooimun (shopping), raffle tickets are available for $1 each with an extremely coveted grand prize: four “Park Hopper” tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure — (approximately $600 value; generously donated by the Walt Disney Company). Merchandise booths will have souvenirs from Okinawa (limited supply), original Okinawa-themed merchandise (tote bags, t-shirts), and fresh plants and produce. Local dance group Majikina Honryu Aigen no Kai will also sell handmade crafts, baked goods, and white elephant items.
This event is a great opportunity to expose the younger generations to Okinawan culture while also enjoying a fun family outing. The warabi (children) tent will have a variety of carnival-style games like bean bag tic-tac-toe, ring and coin tossing, and a prize wheel. Prizes are given to all participants (while supplies last).
The Okinawa Bazaar is a community labor of love and dedicated volunteers contribute greatly to the event’s success. Volunteers will be needed from Saturday to Monday, Oct. 5-7. Service hours are available for students. Those who are interested in helping with set-up, booth operation, and/or clean-up can email email@example.com or fill out this online form: bit.ly/bazaarvolunteer2019