Yesterday, I went to Chinatown for the annual Flower Fair. The Chinese believe that flowers are good luck, so they make sure they buy some for the new year. The Chinese New Year starts on Feb 3 this year, so they all had to buy their flowers this weekend….hence, the Flower Fair.
Chinatown in San Francisco takes up 8 square blocks (Grant Ave from Clay to Broadway; Pacific Ave from Kearny to Stockton). For the most part, the fair took place on Grant Ave. Grant Ave was blocked off and there were tents set up in the street with vendors. There were people selling flowers, tangerines, toys, fireworks,and even parrots. Personally, I love stuff like this. I love people watching, and checking out the items for sale. This fair was especially fun for me because I got to see things I’d never seen before. It was cold and rainy yesterday, but that didn’t deter the festivities one bit!
There was a 14-piece band playing music on the corner for all the shoppers. I am pretty knowledgable about music, but I only recognized half the instruments in the band. There was a triangle-shaped guitar, a flute-type thing, and a strange violin-type instrument that I learned was an Erhu. Even though I’d never seen an Erhu before, I knew the sound well! It was so cool to finally see the instrument that makes that sound! (video of an Erhu)
I spent two hours wandering around, taking pictures, and fighting the crowds…all that made me hungry. There was a young lady on the street handing out coupons to a nearby Chinese restaurant. I will admit that I am unfamiliar with traditional Chinese food (and was kinda scared I’d see live chickens and such), but I am not one to pass up 40% off! So I went into Bow Hon Restaurant and ordered pork dumplings and sesame balls. The food was very good and there were no live chickens. So I got $10 worth of food for only $6 and I also got hot tea (much needed after walking around in the rain).
Now we’ve reached the part where I tell you how to visit properly. If you’re planning to go to the Flower Fair, do not go in a big group. The crowd is so big that it would be hard to keep track of all your friends. I’d say you should be in a group of 2 or 3 people. Also, watch out for snap dragons. Snap dragons are those things that kids throw on the ground and they make a loud noise. Every kid at the fair had a handful, and no instructions about avoiding people’s feet. Third, don’t be scared of Chinese food. If you go into a restaurant in Chinatown, there’s a good chance they’ll have sesame chicken. And lastly. if you want to buy orchids for $4, you need to come to the Flower Fair! I was shocked that they were so cheap!
The New Year’s parade is on Feb 19 at 5:30pm. You can find information and parade route on Chinatown’s website: www.sanfranciscochinatown.com
I read that “350,000 people came to the fair on Saturday and Sunday, and that vendors’ sales were up about 20%”. Read the full article from SFGate.
And here is a link to a poster describing the different Chinese instruments.