Chinese dancers from Tucson Sino Dance were among those who performed last year at the Taste of China Festival.


According to Chinese tradition, on Sunday we'll enter the Year of the Snake, a figure that symbolizes bounty and good luck.

Both should be in abundance at Saturday's Taste of China Festival, the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center's celebration of myriad facets of Chinese culture.

Cuisine from five Chinese provinces will be available, and there will be folk dancing and martial arts demonstrations as well as games for all ages.

Susan Chan, the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center's volunteer administrator and treasurer, said the event drew nearly 5,000 people last year.

"I think Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday for Chinese culture," she said. "It's very important that we celebrate it. It's very cultural. The festival provides a lot of history. It lets us communicate and reach out and let people know about Chinese heritage and culture."

Chan, 45, was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Tucson for 25 years. She said the festival draws crowds of all ages and backgrounds.

"The popularity of China is growing," she said. "People are interested in the foods, culture and languages."

Architect Richard Fe Tom, 65, president of the organization, said he's "overwhelmed" by how many people attend the event. Born in Taiwan, he emigrated as a child in the late 1950s.

Fe Tom said the festival is a way for celebrators to connect with Chinese roots.

"It should be a pretty good time," he said, crediting the festival's popularity to the diversity of food and entertainment options.

"There are different food types," he said. "They vary from Hong Kong to northern China, all the way down to southern China. Some pretty interesting people come out and try different things from different regions."

There's something for everyone, Fe Tom said.

"There's food for the older group, and the younger group has games and entertainment," he said. "It's all authentic to the culture, provided by different cultural groups."

If you go

• What: Taste of China Festival.

• When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: 1288 W. River Road.

• General admission: $2; free for kids younger than 12.

Year of the Snake Dinner

The Tucson Chinese Cultural Center is staging another event to celebrate Lunar New Year 2013.

The Year of the Snake Dinner is at 5 p.m. Feb. 16 at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, 3800 W Starr Pass Blvd. The ritzy affair includes an eight-course Chinese dinner, live performances and casino games.

The cost is $150 per person, $70 of which is tax-deductible. Proceeds benefit the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center. To RSVP for the event - the deadline is Monday - call 292-6900.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or