The fourth edition of Spice of India Festival attracted over 3000 people from the sub-continent reflecting a steady increase in participation with people flying down from Australia, India, Canada and from other regions of United States. The 2012 Fair, is expected to draw an attendance of over 500,000 to break last year record of 452,746 patrons in 17 days.
“Last year, the two-day festival that showcased India at the historic fair had won top North American honors for Alameda County Fair at the Western Fair Association (WFA), and we are growing year after year and gets better every year,” said Courtney Townsend, Director of Festival Square. Spice of India is part of Festival Square at the historic Alameda county fair since 2009.
As many as 300 performers from age 3-65 represented all of India at the Festival. The programs represented over 19 Indian states and Union Territories. The opening weekend– June 23 and 24 — at Festival Square had incredible dance performances, Henna, Indian food, Bollywood and regional music and showcased Indian music and dance troupes. It also had a parade that reflected the great Indian tradition with traditional bands and procession. The Best of Bay Samosa contest pitted 5 teams against each other in an amazing show of cookery, while live cooking demos by Bay Area Chefs enthralled the crowd. An exclusive meditation space set up by the Brahma Kumaris (San Francisco) was another major attraction of the Fair.
“Our goal is to showcase India at its best and present our rich tradition, food and culture in a span of 5 hours on each day to entertain and educate visitors about our country,” said Krishna Kumar, coordinator of the Spice of India Festival. This year, the Festival square witnessed traditional and contemporary dances representing different states. Kriyaa Dance Academy, Sanhiti, Maithry Bay Area, Mambonova Dance Academy, Nrityaarpana Dance Academy, Tarana Dance Academy, Pampa Dance Studio, Bay Area Rockstarz, Dream Dancers, Bollynritya and Ushanjali School of Dance took the stage to perform various dance forms from India while Echoes, Andaaz, Sur Bahara Music School, Melodiens presented Indian contemporary Music. Bollywood Fitness session by Satish Panchal – was another interesting event of the weekend.
The Festival also recognized three community leaders in the region. Dr. Jacob Eapen, elected Director of Washington District Hospital, who served Alameda County Health department for over 27 years, Ms. Kamal Nair for serving 8 years as County Juvenile commissioner and Ms. Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor of Fremont for their outstanding leadership. Alameda County boasts over 100,000 Indian-American Population.
“Events of this nature bring all the communities together and City of Fremont and I fully support this endeavor,” said Anu Natarajan, Vice Mayor of Fremont and Chief Guest for Sunday, June 24. Natarajan, who is the first ever Indian American to be elected to a city council in San Francisco Bay Area, is also running for Mayor of Fremont in the November Elections.
“It is a great step and effort where Indian American communities are coming together to organize a great show at the historic Fair,” said Dr. Jacob Eapen, elected Board member of Washington District Hospital, Fremont. Dr Eapen is the first Indian American to win a general election in Northern California.
Over 14 community organizations and dozen dance schools took an active part as Spice of India Festival community this year. Ayyappa Samaaj, Maithry Bay Area, Spandana Foundation, Paschimi, Silicon Andhra, Rajasthan Association of North America, Bay Area Tamil Manram, Indian-American.org and Brahma Kumaris were among the leading organization that made their presence felt. Merisakhi Creations, Dev Selections, Maurya Indian Cuisine, Kaati Fresh respectively covered henna, rich fabrics and design and food from the region. India Plaza Groceries and Fresh vegetables (Dublin) were the major sponsors of the Samosa Contest and also showcased rich Indian spices and demonstrated it for the local audience.
The 2nd Best of the Bay Samosa Cooking contest was the main attraction of the event. Last year winners – Latha Narayanan, Renuka Empranthiri & Sajeena Mohamed – bagged the first price for the best of the bay samosa contest. The winners also won the fastest rolling contest by making 58 Samosa’s in 10 minutes. In the tie round, the team made about 12 in 1 minute. India Plaza Grocery and Fresh Vegetables in Dublin and Thiruppathi Bhimas Restaurant in Milpitas were the sponsors of the contest.
Golden Peacock Banquet showcased a wide variety of Indian cuisine to public by bringing television style cooking demo to Festival Square. “The food was awesome!” Said David John, who has been to the fair to try Indian delicacies last 3 years.
While the Fair showcased authentic Indian items, another major attraction was the fusion that emerged in the event. The samosa contest had the confluence of Indian and Mexican fusion. The fusion also blended into the entertainment aspect where the Bands showcased some of the western influence on Bollywood Music. In the dance items, Hector Reyes and team performed Salsa to the tune of ‘Senorita’, the famous song sung by Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhey Deol in their movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Doabara’. As many as 19 dancers from Mambonova Dance Company danced with elegance. The fair also showcased exclusive Indian items like Mango Lassi and “Nimbu paani”, the Indian version of lemonade.
The Spice of India Festival also recognized the team behind the Fair. Sri Jyotsna and Manoj Potturu, Latha and Val Narayanan, Manoj & Renuka Empranthiri, Vijayalashmi and Gopakumar, Prabha & Prasad Ramakrishnan, Rajani & Giriprasad Lankipalle, Rajesh Naroth, Nitesh Jain, Sam Rao, Alka Bhatnagar, Uma Dhanapal, Sangeeta Rege, Robin John, Naina Sastry, Roopa Anand, Pragya Das Gupta, Srabasti Mukherjee, Prabhu Venkatesh Subramanyan, Hector Reyes, Kanchan Kapadne, Raju Chithambaram, Purvi Bhansali, Lakshmi Seshadri, Kavya Meka, Paul Cyriac & Ravi Bhatnagar were recognized. Renu Empranthiri and Srabasti Mukherjee were the emcees of the event. Nilanjan Sarkar entertained the crowd with his Karaoke.
The fifth edition of the Spice of India Festival is planned for June 2013 during the opening weekend of Alameda County Fair. Visit the Fair’s website at www.AlamedaCountyFair.com or call 925-426-7600 for more information. For more information regarding Spice of India Festival, please contact 510-402-6504 or [email protected] (dot) com.
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Dan Dalal