Japanese Garden Fall Festival set to begin this weekend

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    Martial arts, haiku poetry and tea ceremonies are coming to Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens this weekend.

    The Japanese Garden Fall Festival is a biannual event that celebrates Japanese culture and heritage every spring and fall, Erika Graham, Japanese Garden festival chairperson, said.

    The festival takes place in the Japanese garden located within the Botanic Gardens. Japanese art, dance, music and more will be featured.

    “There’s really something for everyone here,” Graham, vice president of the Fort Worth Botanical Society, said.

    Festival-goers can enjoy demonstrations of different martial arts, traditional tea ceremonies, calligraphy, origami and dance. But the event is not only for adults, Graham said. Children who come to the festival can have their faces painted or have their portrait drawn by a caricature artist.

    Those who attend will also have many shopping opportunities, Graham said. More than 25 vendors will set up shop in and around the Japanese Garden to sell jewelry, artwork and even bonsai trees.

    “Our marketplace has expanded exponentially this year,” Graham said.

    Organizers of the festival predicted the event would draw bigger crowds than ever before.

    Larinda Smith, volunteer coordinator for the festival, said as many as 5,500 people had attended in the past. This year, organizers expected as many as 7,000.

    “We’ve really been trying to attract a larger audience,” Smith said.

    The event has taken place in the Japanese Garden since the late 1970s, Smith said, but the scope of the festival has grown in recent years. It has expanded beyond the walls of the

    Japanese Garden to include an area of the Botanic Gardens called the Grove where many of the festival’s vendors sell their wares.

    Smith said she hoped TCU students would come to the festival for several reasons. Those who have never been to the Botanic Gardens would have the chance to explore the gardens after attending the festival and experience one of Fort Worth’s cultural mainstays.

    “Right now, the garden is one of the greenest places in Fort Worth. ” Smith said.

    The festival is also close to campus and inexpensive to attend. Parking is free, and admission for adults is only $5, Smith said. Students who do not have a car can easily take a bus to the gardens or walk. Mild weather is expected all weekend.

    Most importantly, the festival provides valuable exposure to Japanese culture, Smith said.

    “A lot of times, I think our mindset of how things are in Japan is related to [movies like] the Karate Kid. I think people need to see more of the traditional side of Japanese society,” Smith said.

    Roxana Aguirre, a senior psychology major, has volunteered with the festival for the past six years. She began volunteering in high school after she was named a National Merit Scholar and needed community service hours to maintain her status. But Aguirre said she was drawn to the festival because she wanted to learn more about Japanese culture.

    “I thought it would be a great way to immerse myself,” Aguirre said.

    Aguirre said she thought the festival was a great activity for people who had not lived in Fort Worth before because it was a unique way of experiencing the Botanic Gardens. Also, people with even a passing interest in Japanese culture could learn more about it at the festival.

    Aguirre said she had learned a lot from volunteering at the festival and other students could, too.

    “They should volunteer because it gives you a completely new perspective on the culture,” she said.

    Where: Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76107
    When: Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Sunday, Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Price: $5 for adults
    $3 for children and seniors
    Free for Fort Worth Botanical Society members and children under four
    There will be no ATMs at the event, so attendees are encouraged to bring cash.