Event: Annual Fall Festival deflates start of new season

Hazel Hyon

Silicon Valley Fall Festival at Memorial Park results in mediocrity (again)



When the thermometer reads 92 degrees and you’re dying for an ice-cold Jamba Juice smoothie, you know it’s summer.


Actually, autumn officially began on Sept. 23, and to honor its commencement, the annual Silicon Valley Fall Festival took place the weekend of Sept. 25 and 26 at Memorial Park. If you missed it, don’t worry—it was really no big deal.

https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=1FGBHHcG8MkOUs3gGNMlnA-fVhZM0oWURo-rdHQHe-Gk&hl=enThe event was mainly a celebration of Zhongqiujie, or the Chinese Moon Festival, which attracted mostly Asian visitors. In addition to its usual partner Rotary Club, the festival joined forces with “World Journal,” a Bay Area-based Chinese newspaper that publicized the event to its readers. By no means was only China represented—Indian booths and Palestinian stalls also promoted their cultures.

At first glance, the event appeared to be worth some attention, with families and couples walking about with bright balloons and musicians performing in the amphitheater.  As I wove through the thin crowd, however, I slowly realized that there was little more to the Fall Festival than marketing booths. The scores of white tents that were scattered throughout the park did not dispense raffle tickets or delicious moon cakes; instead, the booth owners sold massage chairs, newspaper subscriptions and even insurance, most of them from Chinese businesses. Some also sold traditional merchandise such as cheap fashion accessories and artwork. When eager advertisers pushed fliers and samples in my face, I distractedly declined in my broken Mandarin, wondering if there was more to see.

There were the performances, ranging from traditional Indian dance to obscure all-American band gigs, that earned halfhearted applause from the audience, some equipped with cameras and video recorders they held like rocks. Weary and sweating profusely, DECA and Interact members unenthusiastically manned the colorful, yet almost-empty inflatable games on the grass field. It was sad to see that the volunteers, chatting idly behind their stands, nearly outnumbered the visitors of the listless festival.

Despite the dull atmosphere of the event, I held high expectations for the delectable snacks that usually go hand-in-hand with such festivals. However, I was sorely disappointed by what I saw: overly-priced cups of shaved ice with high fructose corn syrup, greasy Korean BBQ and a beer stand with a loud sign announcing “Happy Hour.”

Overall, my springy steps toward Memorial Park stymied to a tepid shuffle after one trip around the booths. Maybe next year will offer better entertainment to the community.