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Out in the Crowd: Annual Rice Festival celebrates Asian culture

The seeds of the Oryza sativa plant have been cultivated in Asia for more than 10,000 years.

A food staple for all Asian cultures, rice is used to represent the diversity of the annual festival fundraising effort for the Asian American Resource Center of Gwinnett.

"Rice is the main meal for Asian people," said Michelle Kang, office manager for the Suwanee-based organization. "Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, they all eat rice as a main meal."

Rice will likely be on hand as an ingredient in the various Asian dishes festival goers can sample as the fifth annual Rice Festival celebrates Asian culture, arts and cuisine.

Gwinnett residents can immerse themselves in the culture of Asia, trying on the royal costuming of Korean kings and queens, tasting Asian dishes and observing traditional dance performances and martial arts demonstrations.

"We have a variety for performance for the day," Kang said. "You won't be bored even though you stay six hours there."

Festival goers will also be able to fly kites imported from Korea for the occasion.

"Very traditional, very beautiful with different shapes and different features," Kang said, describing the kites.

A renowned calligraphy artist flown in from Korea will be on hand demonstrating his craft.

"Calligraphy is rare to see anybody doing it," Kang said. "This is a good chance."

Festival goers can have their own text written out by the calligrapher. Kang suggested guests request something such as a family motto.

Gwinnett residents can take part in the Rice Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Peachtree Hills Shopping Center in Duluth. For more information, call the Asian American Resource Center at 770-270-0663 or visit aarc-atlanta.org.

Arts event

The arts will be alive in Lilburn on Saturday.

In its 36th year, the Lilburn Daze Arts and Crafts Festival will feature, according to organizers, something for everyone.

Festival goers can select from a variety of sweet treats at the bake sale, see a parade just for pooches and peruse the artistic creations of festival vendors during the event, set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Lilburn City Park.

For more information on the festival, visit www.lilburndaze.org.

SideBar: If You Go

· What: Rice Festival

· When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Peachtree Hills Shopping Center, 3455 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Duluth

· Cost: Free to attend

· For more information: Call 770-270-0663 or visit aarc-atlanta.org