Image Credits

Square Dancers at Calgary Stampede, 1982. Image credit: Rainer Halama. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

European Film Fest poster, 2012. Image credit: Babek Akifoglu. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Marmitako festival in Algorta, Biscay, 2008. Image credit: UKBERRI.NET. CC BY 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Strawberry Festival poster. Creator: Robert Mathieson, Jr. 1889-06. Image Source: University of British Columbia Library. No known copyright restrictions. digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/about

Dancer, Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown on the Peace Plaza, Geary and Post Streets. Image credit: Nancy Wong. 1990s. CC BY-SA.3.0.Wikimedia Commons.

Young boys and girls marching in Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, San Francisco. Image credits: Laika ac. CC BY-2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka. Nichi Bei weekly. 2014. File photo.

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival homepage.

Clover Stornetta Float  Sonoma Christian Home homepage.

Straus Family Creamery in Petaluma Butter and Eggs Day Parade, 2011. Straus Family Creamery homepage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asparagus Festival: The Constructed Culture of Stockton, CA

These are my notes for the “Celebrating Asparagus” article. My initial draw to picking this article for leadership discussion was two-fold: my own festival is a food festival so I thought it might relate, and the festival takes place in the Bay Area next month, so I might check it out myself. The paper also […]

These are my notes for the “Celebrating Asparagus” article. My initial draw to picking this article for leadership discussion was two-fold: my own festival is a food festival so I thought it might relate, and the festival takes place in the Bay Area next month, so I might check it out myself. The paper also took a writing style similar to how  might construct my own festival analysis. The paper’s tie to Thanksgiving at the beginning was crucial for forming a picture. America has a short history with many cultures from other lands. Since we had no history, we constructed it. The Thanksgiving tradition is built on a story as true as a fairy tale, yet the tradition remains in the present, more powerful than its historical origins. The festival examples all take place in California, and I as a citizen have pride for my state, my county, and my town. Yet California’s American history is even more shallow than the eastern states. California was founded in 1850, made official in a now-famous adobe building in Monterey,  which was then one of California’s only towns – a pitstop for sailors. My hometown,  Santa Rosa,  was lucky enough to be one of the earliest cities, dating back to the 1868. But the town directly north, Windsor, was established only in 1992. Rohnert Park, home to Sonoma State University, was a  planned city, constructed in the 1960s along with the highway system. Though the article doesn’t touch on this fully, it’s no wonder these planned, constructed, and commercialized festivals blossomed in California towns that have no real history, Rohnert Park among them. Here’s summarized bulletpoints I wrote as I was reading the article, which can serve as jump-off points for discussion.
  • The food festival has received far less attention than other festivals, although it has deep cultural significance itself.
  • The first food festival is thanksgiving. Though myth, it is a powerful message about forging social bonds through food.
  • Food festivals are a way for Americans to celebrate their cultures while being inclusionary and nonpolitical.
  • rationally constructed food festival – based around a foodstuff associated with a community or region. It is linked to no ethnic heritage
  • The Stockton Asparagus Festival – it’s in California. Celebrates the asparagus harvest. The three-day event went from 20k to 100k participants and 150k Spears of asparagus.
  • Chocolate dipped asparagus, asparagus tea, asparagus ice cream. Even an asparagus shaped cookbook.
  • Asparagus is marketed as a “high-class vegetable” or the cadillac of festivals. Do you buy that label?
  • Asparagus is not associated with ethnicity, making it a great choice in a diverse county. What does this say about festivals that are unable to achieve a diverse attendance (like the Dogwood festival, for example)?
  • The festival is highly organized and commercial.
  • Since asparagus is a ‘male’ vegetable, the coordinator consciously feminized it for cross-gender appeal.
  • People go to be “out of time”, similar to marti gras. The asparagus theme is fun and bizarre. You feel silly eating asparagus ice cream while wearing an asparagus hat.
  • It has a “non-community commercial gloss.” Many non-asparagus events revolve around the festival, although they have nothing to do with Stockton.
  • Therefore, we have the “rationally constructed” festival.
  • This type of festival has become wildly popular. We have the Garlic Festival in Gilroy. Even Rohnert Park is mentioned for the Crane Melon festival, used as a desparate attempt to put us on the map (but now we have a casino).
  • ((Note: Rohnert Park is our quintessential commercially constructed town. It has no history or character of its own, which is why this type of festival is so attractive for such places. It puts them on the map. It says “hey, I have character too, guys.”))
  • But is there anything authentic in it at all? Is there really a difference between Gilroy’s Garlic and Stockton’s asparagus?
  • Maybe. Though constructed, Stockton has a history and a sense of community it may not otherwise have.
  • As far as anyone knows, Stockton has always been the asparagus capital. We see traditions in the present, after all

Project Contract

Mission Statement The goal of this project is to build a detailed ethnographic exploration of Santa Rosa’s Glendi festival as it relates to Eastern Orthodox culture, both at a local and global level. I will dissect the festival’s complex cultural roots in connection to its location, the Saint Seraphim Eastern Orthodox church. I will conduct research […]

Mission Statement

The goal of this project is to build a detailed ethnographic exploration of Santa Rosa’s Glendi festival as it relates to Eastern Orthodox culture, both at a local and global level. I will dissect the festival’s complex cultural roots in connection to its location, the Saint Seraphim Eastern Orthodox church. I will conduct research starting from a broad cultural view (food traditions and geographical relations in Eastern Europe) to a narrower local view (Eastern European immigration to Sonoma County), and finally, to the festival itself — the tactile and sensual experience of food and dance under the spiritual setting of the church. After pulling together these three levels of research, I will be able to make insightful conclusions based on data rather than try to force conclusions based on preconceived biases. Having been raised in the Orthodox tradition myself, I am personally interested in knowing the potential draw for my current generation and how Glendi may be actively working to keep an old tradition vitalized. My website will thrive on minimalism and easy-to-find information. I like the WordPress theme I am using (Intergalactic) for this purpose. My subjects have already agreed to be on camera, so my plan is to conduct three interviews on camera, splice together a mini-documentary, and have that documentary play in the background as a full-screen header as someone enters the site. A large play button will allow it to play with color and sound (and with captions). In addition to that, I plan to use a timeline tool to outline Glendi’s history in parallel to Sonoma County’s history of Eastern European immigration. The site architecture will be basic. A bibliography of all my research sources will fill one page. On another page, I will have my written research, which will be well designed and broken up with pictures for readability. The page will include a column of downloadable links in PDF, ePUB, MOBI, and MP3, so my research can be totally accessible by anyone. The homepage I hope to make glamorous and less research-intensive: a copy paragraph that describes the festival, an address, and dates & times. This won’t be just a piece of well-written, well-documented ethnographic research; it will be visited by an average person seeking information about the festival.

Project Tools

  • A camera, a lapel mic, lights, editing software, pictures, audio zoom and royalty-free music – For making a documentary. I have filmmaker friends who I plan to utilize as well to help me set up and get the cut together.
  • Royalty-free image sites
  • Timeline JS3 – For creating a timeline of Glendi history as well as Eastern European immigrations and large historical milestones as it relates to their cultural traditions.
  • Yoast SEO Plugin – Needs to be said. Writing metadata is important for site archiving. It’s like the importance of an abstract for a scholarly article.
  • Adobe InDesign – To layout and export my research in a variety of formats. I also have an audio recorder to read aloud my research for an MP3 version.

Milestone Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 9th – Have interview questions IRB approved. Interviews scheduled.
  • Tuesday, March 22nd – All interviews will be wrapped and video in post-production, audio begun transcription
  • Sunday, April 10th – Interviews transcribed as much as required. Timeline will have been built and deployed on site.
  • Sunday, April 17th – Video and transcriptions submitted to festival coordinators for approval.
  • Tuesday, April 19th – Annotated Bibliography posted to site.
  • Thursday, April 21st – Draft of site is built and ready for review.
  • Thursday, May 5th – Website complete with all details promised in the mission statement.

Prospectus of Project

Firstly, I apologize for being late with this post. Not only have I writers block from having written something a lot like a project prospectus the first week of class, but I was laid up with the stomach flu and had missed class already too much — sorry! Here’s most of what I had written […]

Firstly, I apologize for being late with this post. Not only have I writers block from having written something a lot like a project prospectus the first week of class, but I was laid up with the stomach flu and had missed class already too much — sorry!

Here’s most of what I had written in the previous post:

[M]y research will center on the Glendi Festival in Santa Rosa. This international food festival takes place in my hometown. Put on by St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, they serve Eastern European cuisine and provide live Balkan music. Though the festival has existed since 1989 (predating my birth), I hadn’t heard of it until just last year. I thought my Eastern European Orthodox heritage was uncelebrated by Sonoma County locals. I was dead wrong. The weekend-long festival has attendance in the thousands, which makes me think — somehow Glendi is creating the magic that makes Eastern European culture worthwhile and relevant. So far I’ve felt little pride in my heritage: my father was raised by two strict, authoritative Ukrainian-immigrant parents. True parties were not a thing, much less presents under a Christmas tree. At church, I would stand for two full hours and listen to Ukrainian chants echo through the elaborate church halls, watching my priest grandfather swing smoke and incense. It was plain to see that I was standing with nobody my own age, listening to a language never taught to me. I didn’t get it — but I sure hope to. Glendi is Greek for party, already shattering the stiff, conservative assumptions from my upbringing. Glendi understands the key ingredients that makes us come together and have a cultural celebration. They know how to establish pride, both for those involved and for onlookers. Through interviews with the church, I hope to become inspired by their love — for people, for food, for tradition, and for their own beliefs and lifestyle. I want to discover what entrances people. Why do they go?

But in addition to that, here is all that is new:

  • I have locked in my festival. I reached out and the festival has confirmed interest, stoked for the publicity, aware that the process involves interviews. They are also aware I want to get the interviews on camera.
  • I will film my interviews and cut them together into a short documentary. Given the time frame of this project, I am unsure whether I can get a perfect cut of the video by the end of the semester. For our purposes, clips that go on long will be okay.
  • My research will have three tiers:
    1. Bird’s-Eye View: Exploring the cross-pollination of Eastern European cultures. Particularly looking at the culture of party and of food. Also, from my upbringing I know there’s some politics surrounding who talks to who in Orthodox religions, so I may or may not find answers to that in my research.
    2. Medium shot: Explore Sonoma County’s history of Russian immigration.
    3. Close-up: Explore local newspaper references and coverage of Glendi over the years.

The Glendi Festival and Me: Where I Fall

I’ve made up my mind: my research will center on the Glendi Festival in Santa Rosa. This international food festival takes place in my hometown. Put on by St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, they serve Eastern European cuisine and provide live Balkan music. Though the festival has existed since 1989 (predating my birth), I […]

I’ve made up my mind: my research will center on the Glendi Festival in Santa Rosa. This international food festival takes place in my hometown. Put on by St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, they serve Eastern European cuisine and provide live Balkan music. Though the festival has existed since 1989 (predating my birth), I hadn’t heard of it until just last year. I thought my Eastern European Orthodox heritage was uncelebrated by Sonoma County locals. I was dead wrong. The weekend-long festival has attendance in the thousands, which makes me think — somehow Glendi is creating the magic that makes Eastern European culture worthwhile and relevant. So far I’ve felt little pride in my heritage: my father was raised by two strict, authoritative Ukrainian-immigrant parents. True parties were not a thing, much less presents under a Christmas tree. At church, I would stand for two full hours and listen to Ukrainian chants echo through the elaborate church halls, watching my priest grandfather swing smoke and incense. It was plain to see that I was standing with nobody my own age, listening to a language never taught to me. I didn’t get it — but I sure hope to. Glendi is Greek for party, already shattering the stiff, conservative assumptions from my upbringing. Glendi understands the key ingredients that makes us come together and have a cultural celebration. They know how to establish pride, both for those involved and for onlookers. Through interviews with the church, I hope to become inspired by their love — for people, for food, for tradition, and for their own beliefs and lifestyle. I want to discover what entrances people. Why do they go? In my next blog, I hope to talk about next steps. Right now, this all has manifested as a passion, but it will soon become concrete. It will be a plan.